Fletchy had a night to remember in his NOJHL debut with the Soo Thunderbirds on Saturday night!
In his first NOJHL game played with the Soo Thunderbirds on Saturday night, Soo Thunderbirds affiliate goaltender Maverick Fletcher turned aside 26 shots to help lead the Thunderbirds to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Soo Eagles at the John Rhodes.
Fletcher, who picked up his first NOJHL win in his NOJHL debut, was also named third star of the game.
“I had my billet family watching me here at the John Rhodes tonight and my parents were watching the game live on HockeyTV.com back in my hometown of Sudbury, and it felt nice to get a win in front of all of them,” Fletcher said.
“Fletchy was awesome tonight,” added Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett. “He’s been helping us out the last couple months due to Milsy (Landon Miller) being up with the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds. Fletchy has been looking really good during our practices and we were happy to get him into a game finally.“
Fletcher, who played in his first NOJHL game on Saturday night with the Soo Thunderbirds, is currently playing this season with the Great North Under-18 Hockey League’s Soo Jr. Greyhounds.
So far this season with the Jr. Greyhounds, the 2006-birth-year netminder from Sudbury, Ontario, has posted a 1.18 goals against average through 20 games played.
“My season with the Jr. Greyhounds has been going really well so far and being able to get an NOJHL game in tonight for the Soo Thunderbirds feels amazing,” Fletcher said. “The Soo Thunderbirds are an amazing organization and I’m proud to wear this logo on the front of my jersey.”
Despite outshooting the Eagles 46-19 through two periods of play, the Thunderbirds trailed the Eagles by a score of 2-1 through forty minutes.
“Jitters were definitely playing an effect in tonight’s game,” Fletcher said. “At one point we were down 2-1, but I just said to myself, it doesn’t matter what your save percentage is at the end of the game, as long as you keep your team in and just make the next save.”
“We carried the bulk of the play tonight, Jarrett added. “In situations where it feels like nothing is going to go in, you just need to learn to stay positive and try not to squeeze your stick too hard.”
With the Thunderbirds trailing the Eagles 2-1 with under six minutes to go in the third period, it would be Thunderbirds forward Michael Chaffay getting his 11th goal of the season at the 14:06 mark of the third from Justin Mauro and Austin Fellinger, which tied things up at two heading into overtime.
Then, at the 2:06 mark of overtime, it would then be Michael Chaffay getting his second goal of the night and 12th goal of the season on the power play from Brock Santa Maria and Justin Mauro, which gave the Thunderbirds a 3-2 overtime victory.
Chaffay’s goal in overtime, also turned out to be his first career overtime goal.
“That goal in overtime definitely felt good,” Chaffay said. “It especially helps when you have good teammates passing you the puck whenever you’re open, so that made my job pretty easy tonight.”
After failing to score on their first four power play opportunities of the game, including a five-minute power play opportunity early in the third period, the Thunderbirds then finally made their fifth power play count, which came at the most important part of the game in overtime.
“To score in that big of a moment definitely took a lot of weight off of our shoulders,” Chaffay said.
Jackson Truchan had the other goal for the Soo Thunderbirds on Saturday night while James Kearney and Youssef Chaouachi both chipped in with one assist each.
Truchan’s goal, which was his 21st goal of the season, came at the 1:32 mark of the first period, which put the Thunderbirds up by an early 1-0 score.
Hunter Friesen led the way offensively for the Eagles on Saturday night with a power play goal and an assist while Nolan Hendry also got on the scoresheet with one goal.
Hendry scored at the 16:43 mark of the first period, which tied things up at one.
Friesen’s power play tally just 1:34 later, then gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead heading into the second.
Former Soo Thunderbirds forward Kenny Belanger also got on the scoresheet for the Eagles on Saturday night with one assist.
Eagles goaltender Kameron Ragon, who played in just his forth NOJHL game on Saturday night, made a season-high 55 saves in the loss, and was named second star of the game.
“Ragon played really well tonight,” said Soo Eagles head coach Doug LaPrade. “He was solid, he was on his angles and he was very confident.”
Despite finishing the game with a season-high 55 saves, Ragon gave up the first shot that he faced in overtime, which came off the stick of Thunderbirds forward Michael Chaffay.
“Ragon made some really big saves when he needed to tonight, and it was unfortunate that it had to end the way it did in overtime, but that’s how the game goes.” LaPrade said.
The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m., when they will visit Blind River to take on the Blind River Beavers at the Blind River Community Centre.
With 21 goals now on the season, Soo Thunderbirds rookie forward and Farmington Hills, Michigan native Jackson Truchan is now only one goal away from tying the franchise record for most goals by an American-born rookie.
The franchise record for most goals by an American-born rookie, is 22, which held by Josh Leddy (2002-2003).