Dudley Hewitt Cup – Soo Thunderbirds Improve to 2-0

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Dudley Hewitt Cup - Photo credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
Dudley Hewitt Cup - Photo credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images

Dudley Hewitt Cup - Photo credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
Dudley Hewitt Cup – Photo credit: Tim Bates/OJHL Images
FORT FRANCES, Ont. – Sports – A late second period tally, following a turnover, spurred an eventual run of five consecutive goals by the Soo Thunderbirds as they soared to a 6-3 victory over the Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) Wednesday evening in Game 4 of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship at Ice for Kids Arena in Fort Frances.

The hometown Lakers got off to the start they wanted scoring on the first shot of the night as Fort Frances forward Dylan Robertson came down the right side and snapped it past Sault Ste. Marie starter Mario Culina 84 seconds into the contest.

Sault Ste. Marie notched the equalizer moments into a man advantage opportunity as Matt Pinder hammered a one-timer beating Lakers netminder Nathan Park from the left face-off dot to level the proceedings at 14:06.

Fort Frances retook the lead eight and half minutes into the second as forward Bowen Alcock drove hard to the net and tapped in a crisp, cross-ice pass from Rosen Jaswel into the open side.

A Lakers’ giveaway allowed the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League title holders to tie it for a second time late in the stanza as Matt Caruso scooped up an errant clearing attempt near the blueline and ripped it high over Park at 19:01.

Capitalizing for a second time on the power play, the Thunderbirds took their first lead of the night early in the third as Brett Jeffries stuffed in a Boris Katchouk feed from in close at 1:05.

Katchouk added another at 3:45 as he spun and deposited one in from the side of the net off a goalmouth scramble.

The T-Birds offensive outburst continued, via special teams, midway through the final session as Soo captain Anthony Miller worked his way free in the slot and fired the puck into the top right hand corner to make it 5-2 on their third man advantage effort of the evening.

Fort Frances replaced Park after that in favour of Pierce Dushenko, but Matt Busby greeted him with a low blast from the right side boards to put NOJHLers in control at 11:31.

The Lakers added a late power play tally of their own from Mason Meyer to round out the night’s scoring.

Caruso and Owen Headrick both chipped in with two assists for the Thunderbirds who improved to 2-0 with the decision while Fort Frances fell to 1-1.

Sault Ste. Marie held a large edge in shots, 48-20, with Culina finishing with 17 saves to record the win.

Park suffered the loss stopping 37 of 42 attempts he faced with Dushenko kicking out five of six in relief.

Player of the game laurels went to Caruso for the Soo and Nick Minerva of the Lakers in a match-up played in front of 1,207 fans.

The victory guarantees the Thunderbirds at least a berth in the semifinal Friday and they will have an opportunity to secure a place right to Saturday’s final depending on the outcome of their final round robin game Thursday vs. the Toronto Patriots (OJHL) (1-0-1).

That contest goes at 2 p.m. Central/3 p.m. Eastern.

Fort Frances takes on fellow Superior International Junior Hockey League side Dryden GM Ice Dogs (0-2) in the second game of the day at 7:30 p.m. Central/8:30 p.m. Eastern.

Live scoring and tournament information can be found on the Dudley-Hewitt Cup website at www.centralcanadianchampionship.com.