THUNDER BAY – Sports – A Kevin Michelcavage power play tally with 52 seconds remaining lifted the Soo Thunderbirds to a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Thunder Bay North Stars Wednesday in day 2 action at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Junior A Hockey Championship in Thunder Bay.
With the victory the T-Birds improve to 2-0 in the four-team tournament and have guaranteed themselves at least a semifinal berth.
Derek Battagin of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League champion Thunderbirds generated the best scoring opportunity early on as he dangled through the North Stars defence before darting to his right and lifting a backhand off the crossbar.
It was the Soo that opened the scoring in the late stages of the opening session as Nick Romano cruised down the right side on a two-on-one and snapped a quick shot past North Stars’ starter Carter McEachern at 18:28.
Thunder Bay drew level 3:16 into the middle frame as Sam Dubinsky redirected Tyler Osborne’s power play point blast.
However the T-Birds responded less than two minutes later to re-take the lead courtesy of a Dylan Connolly boomer from just inside the blueline.
Micky Sartoretto extended the cushion to two thanks to Greg Sartoretto’s first of the tournament midway through the contest.
Thunder Bay pulled to within one before the middle stanza was complete as Matthew Alexander’s crisp pass from deep in his own territory sent towering forward Kyle Lapenskie in alone on Soo stopper John Kleinhans as he managed to tuck the puck through the legs and in at 18:40.
The hometown Stars then tied it quickly in the final frame as affiliate Bryce Knapp’s shot found its way through a maze at 1:55.
That set the stage for Michelcavage’s heroics as he lifted the puck high over top a sprawled McEachern for the game-winner from the top of the crease.
Shots on goal favoured the Soo 36-28 with Dylan Connolly earning RBK player of the game laurels for the Thunderbirds. North Stars defenceman Osborne was recognized for his efforts in picking up the award for his side.
Round robin competition concludes Thursday as the Soo (2-0) take on Stouffville (1-1) at 2 p.m. followed by an all-Superior International Jr. Hockey League match-up between host Thunder Bay (0-2) and champion Wisconsin (1-1) at 7:30 p.m.
The top club after the four-team preliminary round will earn a direct berth in Saturday’s final while the second and third place squads will vie for the other spot in the title game in semifinal action Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Story by SIJHL Communications
Photo by James Mirabelli