FRENCH RIVER – The Soo Thunderbirds built-up a three-goal lead deep into a contest Sunday against the French River Rapids before eventually holding on for a 5-4 victory in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action at Noelville Arena.
Levi Siau staked the Rapids to an early lead as the rookie forward notched his club-best 21st tally just past the midway point of the first period.
Taking advantage of a pair of early power plays in the second stanza helped Sault. Ste. Marie tie it, then go ahead with Camaryn Baber and Tanner Mayne supplying their 14th and eighth markers of the campaign respectively to put the visitors up by one heading into the third.
A third extra-man effort on the night helped the Soo go up 3-1 with Alex Acosta picking up his 15th five minutes into the final frame.
Noah Solinger then made it 4-1 at 9:15 only to see French River answer that 65 seconds later on Stephen Calisti’s 10th.
Special team’s success saw the Thunderbirds add a fourth power play marker at 14:01 as Nick Smith buried his team-leading 35th of the year.
Continuing to battle though, the home side tacked on two more in the latter stages of the contest on goals from Max Carbone and Will Frustaglio to pull within one, but the Soo held on from there for the win.
Mark Tassone had two assists in the triumph.
Brandon Gordon made 32 stops to record the win for the Thunderbirds while Andrew Rocha faced 41 attempts in defeat for French River.
With the result the Soo moves back into sole possession of first place in the NOJHL’s West Division, two points ahead of the idle Rayside-Balfour Canadians.
Photos courtesy of Dal Photography