By Matt Stefano
Playoff hockey has been kind to the Soo Thunderbirds thus far with a 6-0 record heading into game 3 of the West Division Finals Monday as the club was hoping to use their Essar Centre ice advantage to put a stranglehold lead on the Elliot Lake Wildcats. Rookie forward Matt Caruso, who scored thirteen goals during the regular season headed into Monday night with twelve playoff goals and was one shy of breaking the team record for most goals in a playoff season.
Caruso made history on the power play at 13:23 into the first with his thirteenth from Owen Headrick and Matt Busby to put the Soo up 1-0. Caruso’s thirteenth of the post season passed Jeff Rainville (2003), Matt Caria (2005) along with Nick Minardi (2009) who all held the previous team record with twelve postseason goals. Shortly after at the 13:48 mark, it would be captain Anthony Miller notching his fifth of the playoffs and twentieth on his postseason career from Nick Tassone and Nick Sicoly to put the Soo up by two after one.
Miller’s twentieth career playoff goal made him just one shy of tying the team record for most career post season goals and he would do it on the power play just 2:39 into the second from Nick Tassone and David Radke to put the Birds up 3-0. The previous team record holder for most playoff goals was set by former Thunderbirds captain and all time scoring leader Jerry Petingalo with twenty one during his playoff career years from (2007-2011). Brandon Grandinetti made a highlight reel goal at 11:09 with his second of the playoffs from Matt Caruso and Caleb Boman to put the Soo up 4-0 through two.
Matt Mitchell’s second of the playoffs at 3:17 from Connor Dea and David Radke was the final goal on the night as the T-Birds went on to blank the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-0 to take a 3-0 series lead in the best of seven West Division Finals. Brian Kment made seventeen stops for his fourth career playoff shutout tying him with Ryan Dube (2006-2009) and Adam Hanna (2001-2002).
The Soo will now look to wrap up the series in game four this Wednesday, April 1st in Elliot Lake beginning at 7:30 from Centennial Arena.