By Matt Stefano
Sunday night marked the final game of the 2014 portion for the Soo Thunderbirds in a top two team West Division clash vs the Elliot Lake Wildcats. It was also the first meeting between these two clubs after the Thunderbirds dropped a 3-0 decision to them on November 26th at the John Rhodes.
The T-Birds got on the board first at 5:26 courtesy of Matt Caruso’s ninth of the season from Matt Pinder and Brett Jeffries. Nathan Hebert’s unassisted goal at 16:18 put the Soo ahead 2-0. Hebert’s tenth of the season also tied his career season totals from last year. Then with just over a minute and a half remaining, it would be Elliot Lake cutting the lead to 2-1 courtesy of Jason Wilson’s sixth from Kyle Salmon.
With the Soo up 2-1 heading into the second, it would be Spencer MacLean getting his twentieth in the powerplay from Adam Baxter and Nathan Campbell at 12:50 tying it up a two through forty minutes of action.
Andrew Barbeau would get an early Christmas gift at 6:27 into the third with his first career NOJHL goal from Nick Tassone to give the T-Birds a 3-2 lead. Eric Hillock’s powerplay goal and eleventh if the year into the empty net rounded out the scoring from Anthony Miller with just nine seconds to go as the T-Birds doubled up on the Elliot Lake Wildcats 4-2 and head into the Christmas Break and New Year with a 23-4-0-3 record good for fourth nine points and remain tied for first in the league with Kirkland Lake and still hold a game in hand.
Mario Culina made twenty six stops for his league leading fourteenth win of the season. The T-Birds will return to action on Friday, January 2nd vs the Mattawa Blackhawks at 7:30 from the John Rhodes.
Note: The home game between the T-Birds and Powassan Voodoos on Friday, January 23rd will be played at the Essar Centre.