Clemons shines in debut with Thunderbirds

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Soo Thunderbirds

Inclement weather forced a postponed game between the Soo Thunderbirds and the Rayside Balfour Canadians back on Wednesday, November 27th, but Wednesday, December 4th marked the makeup game between the two teams at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

Wednesday night’s game also marked the debut of newly acquired forward Rylan Clemons, who came over to the Thunderbirds in a trade with the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons.

The Thunderbirds, who took on the top scoring team in the NOJHL, the Rayside Balfour Canadians, came out with a victory on Wednesday night as they defeated the Canadians by a score of 4-3 in overtime at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

“We started out a little slow, but as the game progressed the boys got their legs moving and we buried our chances, fought hard and got the win,” said Thunderbirds newly acquired forward Rylan Clemons.

Clemons was named first star of the game in his debut with the Thunderbirds, scoring a pair of goals, including one on a breakaway, along with adding an assist on the overtime winner, which was scored by Avery Rebek on the power play.

“On the breakaway, the Canadian player was cutting towards the middle of the ice and there was no defence in the back. He lost the puck and I took it, went down and went back hand top corner,” said Clemons.

“On the second goal, I went down low and stuffed it home. On the overtime winner, the defence stepped up on me, but I found Rebek down low and he buried it upstairs,” continued Clemons.

Clemons, who is a native of Franklin, Michigan, began this season with the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons, before coming over to the Thunderbirds in a trade back on November 28th.

“It’s a lot more snowy here, but guys on the team are nice and I’m looking forward to playing hockey here in the Soo,” concluded Clemons.

Thunderbirds second year forward Avery Rebek, who scored his first career overtime goal on the power play at the 3:35 mark of the extra frame, also added an assist for a two-point night.

Mackenzie Walkington had a shorthanded goal for the Thunderbirds while Tyler Dunbar, Jake Kovacs, Dylan Parsons, Warner Young and Tyler Savard all chipped in with one assist each.

Giordano Biondi (power play), Matthew Belanger and Oliver Smith had the goals for the Canadians while Matthew Dokis-Dupuis led the way offensively for his club, setting up two goals.

Ethan Lavallee, Joel Mongeon, Brady Maltais and Ben Hatanaka all had one assist each for the Canadians.

Canadians goaltender Cameron Lamour gave up four goals on fifty shots in the loss while Thunderbirds newly signed netminder Ethan Racz made thirty two stops for his first NOJHL victory.

The Thunderbirds will be back in action on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m., when they take on the Soo Eagles at the John Rhodes Community Centre.

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Matt Stefano
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.