Thunderbirds hold off Red Wings

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A wild six-goal third period saw the Soo Thunderbirds eventually prevail with a 5-4 victory over the Elliot Lake Red Wings Friday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up at John Rhodes Community Centre.

Each side would click once on late man advantage opportunities to send the teams to the first intermission knotted at 1-1.

Adam Matar had the power play goal for Elliot Lake at 16:26 when he deflected a Cameron Dial point shot by Sault Ste. Marie starter Kolton Bourret.

Up a skater themselves just over a minute later, the Thunderbirds controlled a faceoff, which eventually allowed Brock Santa Maria to cruise in from the point and snap a shot into the bottom left corner by the Red Wings’ Cameron Smith.

In the second, the Soo capitalized on a turnover which allowed Ethan Novello to convert from the slot.

A frenzied start to the third saw the six goals scored before the session was half-way in, with three being notched aside.

On the power play to begin the frame, Elliot Lake’s Evan Dantas picked up his 10th of the season, 34 seconds in, as he spun in the slot and whipped a shot, blocker side, by Bourret.

Getting that back a couple of shifts later, the T-Birds’ Ranon Joseph made no mistake from between the hash marks.

Countering, the Wings’ Zachary Vickerman made it 3-3 as he was left with an open-net tap-in off an odd-man rush.

Answering that, the Thunderbirds struck twice moments apart to go up by a pair.

Daniel Beaupre put the hosts up by one as he banged in a rebound off a Joseph blast.

They then came right back and got the eventual game-winner courtesy of Youssef Chaouachi after Dharan Cap pushed the draw ahead and fed him for the difference maker.

Silas Crawford did get one back for Elliot Lake with 10:56 remaining as his harmless looking dump in took a crazy hop of the ice and skipped in over the glove of Bourret.

That would be it however offensively as the Soo held on for the win.

With the triumph, the T-Birds improved to 28-10-2-1 in 2022-23 while Red Wings dropped to 13-24-1-2, on a night where Thunderbirds’ defenceman Kaden Dundas appeared in his 100th NOJHL game.