T-Birds take 2-0 series lead in finals

Rod Aubertin: SSMPhotos.com

After blanking the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 3-0 on Friday night in game one of the NOJHL finals at the Essar Centre, the Soo Thunderbirds were looking to take a 2-0 series lead on Saturday night in game two.

Kirkland Lake got on the board first just 5:29 in as Brayden Stortz notched his ninth of the postseason from Joel Fortin and Logan Fredericks to put the Gold Miners up 1-0.

The T-Birds would then tie things up at the 15:46 mark of the first, courtesy of overage forward Joey Miller’s sixth of the postseason from Zach Senecal and Matt Mitchell.

With the teams tied 1-1 heading into the second, the T-Birds would then take the lead with just forty six seconds to go in the middle frame, courtesy of overage forward Matt Pinder’s fifth of the postseason from Jaren Bellini and Mike Caruso to put the Soo ahead 2-1 after two.

Matt Caruso’s seventh goal of the postseason into the empty net with just fourteen seconds to go in regulation sealed the deal, as the T-Birds went on to beat the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 3-1 at the Essar Centre and have now taken a 2-0 series lead in the NOJHL finals.

“It was a big win for us,” said T-Birds overage forward Matt Pinder, who scored the game winning goal. “It feels good that we are now up 2-0 after capitalizing both wins at home here.”

Through the first two games of the NOJHL finals, the T-Birds have outscored the Gold Miners 6-1.

“We have Mitchell, Senecal and Miller matched up against their top line,” continued Pinder. “When they don’t score, they hardly put up any goals on the board and we are good that way.”

The T-Birds, who are only two wins away from clinching their second consecutive Copeland Cup McNamara Trophy, will be in Kirkland Lake on Thursday, April 21st for game three at 7:00 p.m. from the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.

“We are just going to take it one game at a time and hope for the best here,” concluded Pinder.

Joe Marcoullier gave up two goals on forty nine shots directed his way for the Gold Miners loss while T-Birds goaltender Connor Ryckman made eighteen saves for the win.

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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.