T-Birds Clinch NOJHL Title


Last night, the Soo Thunderbirds were only one victory away from clinching their third Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy in franchise history. And after four consecutive years of punching a berth into the finals and coming out short two seasons in a row, the T-Birds wanted nothing more than to clinch the NOJHL title on Essar Centre ice in front of the Soo faithfuls.

Rod Aubertin: SSMPhotos.com
Rod Aubertin:

After losing in the NOJHL finals in 2013 and 2014, the third time would be the charm for the T-Birds as they edged the Cochrane Crunch by a score of 5-3 in game five of the NOJHL final.

They also won the NOJHL final series four games to one and have also clinched a berth into the Dudley Hewitt Cup.

The game started in what would appear to be a goal fest in the first.

Henry Berger opened up the scoring at 9:50 from Dustin Cordeiro and Cody Gratton to put the Crunch up 1-0.

Matt Pinder’s power play goal tied things up at one at 11:26 from Owen Headrick and Matt Caruso.

Cochrane would then regain the lead just nine seconds later courtesy of Alex Goulet’s goal from Starvos Soillis.

Nick Tassone tied things up at two from Nick Sicoly and Joey Miller at 12:21.

Max Galshauser put the Crunch ahead for the third time in the game at 17:01 from Cody Gratton, before Owen Headrick would tie things up for the T-Birds at 18:20 from Matt Mitchell and Eric Hillock as the teams went in to the dressing rooms tied at three after one.

Andrew Barbeau put the Soo up for the first time just 1:27 into the middle frame from Boris Katchouk and Matt Pinder to give the T-Birds a 4-3 lead after two.

Brett Jeffries unassisted goal into the empty net at 19:29 into the third sealed the deal as the Soo ended up being crowned NOJHL champions for the first time since 2012.

Rookie netminder Mario Culina turned aside twenty two shots for the T-Birds victory.

During the gold medal presentation, Soo Thunderbirds defenceman and Garden River, Ontario product Owen Headrick was named the NOJHL playoffs Most Valuable Player, putting up twelve goals and twenty points through fourteen postseason outings.

The Thunderbirds will now get set to travel to Fort Frances, Ontario to get set for the Dudley Hewitt Cup on April 28th.

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Matt had graduated from Sault College in the General Arts and Sciences program in 2011 and has been working in the sports field ever since. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native has worked as an Athletics Assistant in the Sault College Athletics Department during his final year of school in 2011. After graduating, Stefano worked for two years at the George Leach Centre from 2011-2013 for the Algoma University Thunderbirds Varsity Basketball Games as an Athletics Assistant. From 2013 on, Stefano has been working as the Soo Thunderbirds communications person and has also been volunteering with Shaw TV Sault Ste. Marie since 2014, doing Soo Thunderbirds TV Segments.