KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) got three goals, including the game-winner in the third period, from rookie forward Zach Senecal to help lead them to a 6-5 victory over the Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) Wednesday afternoon in Game 3 of the 2016 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A Championship at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
It was all Sault Ste. Marie early in the contest as they carried the play from the opening face-off and were rewarded with the initial goal of the day as Khadyn Butterfly drove down the right side and slid his attempt under Fort Frances starter Pierce Dushenko.
The Lakers tied it midway through the first as Christian Ripley snapped one over the glove of Soo netminder Connor Ryckman from the left of the crease.
Senecal put the NOJHL champion Thunderbirds back in front at 16:21 as he fired a shot that beat Dushenko from deep in the Fort Frances zone.
A Lakers’ power play saw them knot the affair at 2-2 at 18:39 of the session with A.J. Rupert finding the back of the net.
Special teams played a large part in the second stanza with each side connecting twice during a multitude of man advantage opportunities.
Caleb Boman had a pair of powerful point blasts for the Soo in the frame that were sandwiched around power play markers by Nolan Ross and Nick Minerva for Fort Frances.
Dushenko left the contest with six minutes left in the second and was replaced by back-up Brandon Bodnar the rest of the way.
The T-Birds got the go-ahead goal six and a half minutes into the third that came about on a nice set-up by Soo captain Brett Jeffries, who made a deft no-look pass between his legs to an open Senecal who snapped his shot past Bodnar.
Senecal then got the eventual difference maker midway through the period as he was parked to the left of Bodnar and chipped in his third of the day over the pad of the Fort Frances goaltender.
Awarded a penalty shot for a second straight game, Dylan Kooner pulled the SIJHL side to within one with 2:16 remaining as he scored again with a nifty shot that beat Ryckman cleanly.
The Thunderbirds tightened up from there however and kept the Lakers hemmed in to run out the clock and raise their record to 1-1 at the four-team event.
Michael Caruso, Matthew Busby and Matthew Mitchell dished out two assists apiece for the Soo while Dylan Robertson had a trio of helpers for the Lakers and Minerva chipped in with a pair to go along with his tally.
Shots on goal favoured Fort Frances 38-34 with Ryckman picking up the win.
Bodnar suffered the loss in relief allowing two against on 13 attempts while Dushenko stopped 17 of 21 as the Lakers fell to 0-2.
Action at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup resumes later tonight as the host Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (1-0) (NOJHL) take on the Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL) (1-0) at 7:30 p.m.
For more information on the Dudley-Hewitt Cup visit the official CJHL – DHC website at centralcanadianchampionship.com.
All Dudley-Hewitt Cup games are available online at FASTHockey.com.
Game Summary: http://dhewitt.stats.pointstreak.com/boxscore.html?gameid=2851211
2016 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Schedule/Results
May 3-7 – Kirkland Lake, Ont.
All games at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex
Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (Host-NOJHL)
Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL)
Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL)
Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL)
Tuesday, May 3
Trenton 4 Soo 2
Kirkland Lake 8 Fort Frances 5
Wednesday, May 4
Soo 6 Fort Frances 5
Trenton vs. Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 5
Fort Frances vs. Trenton 2 p.m.
Kirkland Lake vs. Soo 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 6
Semifinal: 3rd Round Robin vs. 2nd Round Robin 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 7
Final: Semifinal Winner vs. 1st Round Robin 7:30 p.m.
DHC winner advances to the RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship May 14-22 @ Lloydminster, Alta.