FORT FRANCES, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) jumped out to an early three-goal lead and never looked back enroute to an 8-1 victory over the Dryden GM Ice Dogs (SIJHL) in Game 1 of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship at Ice for Kids Arena in Fort Frances Tuesday afternoon.
The Thunderbirds pressed the attack early and were rewarded with the game’s opening tally as Brett Jeffries stuffed a loose puck past Dryden starter Tate Sproxton at 2:14.
The NOJHL champions from Sault Ste. Marie extended their cushion two minutes later as Boris Katchouk lifted one from the left point that found its way in through a crowd to put the T-Birds up a pair.
Special teams allowed the Soo to build on their strong start as Jaren Bellini finished off the work of Anthony Miller and Nicolas Tassone for a power play marker at 8:39.
Dryden used their first man advantage opportunity of the afternoon to get on the board midway through the first as Matt Houston snapped past Thunderbirds netminder Brian Kment.
Answering back, Matt Pinder broke free and lifted one over Sproxton at 13:14 as the T-Birds took a 4-1 lead after one period of play.
It only took the Soo a couple minutes to add to their cushion in the middle session as Joey Miller, parked in front of the Ice Dogs net, neatly redirected Caleb Bowman’s low blast from the left point into an open side.
The Thunderbirds put an end to Sproxton’s afternoon in favour of Chase Gorman with a sixth goal that came off the stick of Pinder, via the power play, at 5:22.
Devin Shell made it 7-1 after 40 minutes as he ripped one from the left face-off circle that eluded Gorman.
Soo assistant captain Matt Mitchell capped off the day’s scoring with the lone tally of the final frame sliding one between the legs of Gorman at 13:38.
Final shots on goal in the contest were 36-23 with Kment picking up the win and Sproxton the loss. Gorman made 15 stops on 17 chances in relief.
Game 2 of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup goes at 7:30 p.m. CT/8:30 p.m. ET as the host and SIHGL champion Fort Frances Lakers take on the title holder of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Toronto Patriots.
Live scoring and tournament information can be found on the Dudley-Hewitt Cup website at www.centralcanadianchampionship.com.