By Matt Stefano
The Soo Thunderbirds returned to action for their first game of 2015, as they took on the Mattawa Blackhawks in their fourth meeting of the season. Goaltender Mario Culina got his fourth consecutive start tonight after being named the Gongshow Gear player of the month for December.
The Soo outshot Mattawa 13-0 after one period along with leading 1-0 courtesy of Matt Pinder’s twelfth of the season unassisted at 6:41. Tanner Bowditch’s sixth of the season from Andy Williams and Tyler Broderson tied it up at one just 4:06 into the second. Back to back powerplay goals from Nick Grose at 8:11 and 10:28, put the Blackhawks up 3-1. With 3:59 to go in the second, it would be Caleb Boman getting his third from Matt Pinder and Brett Jeffries which cut the lead to 3-2 after two.
Eric Hillock’s twelfth goal of the season from Anthony Miller tied things up at three just forty one seconds into the third and for the second time in four meetings versus Mattawa, these two teams were headed into overtime. With 1:07 left in overtime, CJ Nicholson notched his eleventh from Chris Bauman and Nathan Avery leading the Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Thunderbirds.
The Soo outshot Mattawa 39-12 overall but their winning streak gets snapped at three games but point streak still extends to six. Next action for the Thunderbirds will be on Sunday, January 4th as the visit Centennial Arena to take on the Elliot Lake Wildcats at 7:30. With a point picked up in tonight’s overtime loss, the Thunderbirds move ahead of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners for top spot in the NOJHL with the games even at thirty one apiece.
Notes: Brian Kment returned to tonight’s lineup after spending time with the Greyhounds due to Brandon Halverson’s absence for Team USA. Boris Katchouk remains with the Hounds until Sergey Tolchinsky comes back and Nick Sicoly is currently still with the Guelph Storm until the return of Robby Fabbri. Andrew Barbeau received five and a game for fighting at 2:29 into the second with Phillip Cloutier.