By Matt Stefano
Sunday night the Soo Thunderbirds kicked off their first road game of the new year in Elliot Lake and were looking to get back on the winning track after a 4-3 overtime loss on Friday night vs the Mattawa Blackhawks at the Rhodes. It also marked the return of rookie forward Nick Sicoly, who turns seventeen tomorrow, after being recalled for three games by the Guelph Storm.
The Thunderbirds got on the scoreboard quickly just twenty two seconds in as Anthony Miller would notch his twelfth goal of the season from Matt Mitchell and Eric Hillock to give the Soo a 1-0 lead. Just 1:13 later, the Soo would go up by two, courtesy of Nathan Hebert’s eleventh of the season from Nick Tassone and Nick Sicoly. Hebert’s eleventh goal has also passed his career totals from a year ago after finishing with ten.
Elliot Lake would cut the lead to 2-1 just 2:24 into the second, courtesy of Adam Baxter’s fourteenth from Spencer MacLean and Cole Hepler. Baxter would then strike again just 1:10 later on the power play with his second of the night and fifteenth of the season from Cole Hepler and Nathan Campbell to tie it up at two. Nathan Hebert’s twelfth of the season and second of the night from Nick Tassone and Nick Sicoly put the T-Birds back in front 3-2 at 7:14. Anthony Miller would put the Soo up by two on the power play with just 1:14 left in the second with his second of the game and thirteenth of the season from Matt Caruso and Nathan Hebert.
With the Soo leading 4-2 heading into the final frame, it would be captain Anthony Miller sealing the deal into the empty net with his fourth career NOJHL hat trick from Matt Caruso and Eric Hillock with 1:47 to go as the T-Birds go on to defeat the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-2 at Centennial Arena. Mario Culina made sixteen stops for his league leading fifteenth win.
Next action for the Thunderbirds will be Saturday, January 10th at the John Rhodes vs the Sudbury Nickel Barons at 7:30.
NOTE: T-Birds forward Boris Katchouk recorded his first two career OHL points (assists) this afternoon in his sixth game with the Soo Greyhounds and was named the game’s third star in a 6-4 loss vs the first ranked team in the CHL, Oshawa Generals on a short staffed Greyhounds roster.