Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds saw four skaters notch their first goals of the season, including three which were their opening Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League tallies, in downing the French River Rapids 6-2 Saturday in a match-up at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Sault Ste. Marie needed less than two minutes to gain the edge on French River when James Legler left a back pass to defenceman Andrew Thompson who snapped a shot off the post and in from the left circle for his initial NOJHL tally.
A sizzling Jacob Smith then made it 2-0 at 4:46 as he clicked for a sixth straight outing by finishing a rebound off a Kaden Dundas point blast, during a man advantage, in beating Rapids’ starter Brady Dyer.
Continually applying the pressure throughout the period, the Soo notched another late in the session with Callum McAuley stuffing in a second wrap-around chance they had in a matter of moments.
Moving to the middle stanza, the T-Birds added to their cushion early on as Colin McIntosh cut wide in the French River end and roofed a shot from a sharp angle, for his first league goal, and chase Dyer in favour of back-up Elijah Grant at 3:21.
The change gave the visitors a brief spark a couple of minutes later as Matthew Shulist tucked the puck under the pad of Thunderbirds’ netminder Mavrick Fletcher on a two-on-one.
Getting that back at 8:04, Soo rookie defenceman Candon O’Neill joined a play up ice while shorthanded and finished off an Emile Tremblay feed with a blocker side shot for his opening NOJHL goal.
The assist for Tremblay was his opening helper, early in his Soo career.
French River countered midway through the night thanks to Kai Clayton, who spun and finished off a scramble in front on a downed Fletcher.
The surging Smith then added another in the third with a crafty backhand that saw him score for the eighth time in his past six games in wrapping up the result.
With the win, the Thunderbirds improved to 10-3-2-1 overall, while in defeat, the Rapids dropped to 2-14-0-0.