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GALLERY: Soo strikes early as T-Birds top Wildcats

NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE

NOJHL NETWORK MEDIA UPDATE

Release Date: Sunday, Sept. 11, 2016

Soo strikes early as T-Birds top Wildcats

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – An early two-goal lead allowed the Soo Thunderbirds to gain a cushion they would not relinquish as they went on to defeat the Elliot Lake Wildcats 8-2 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up Sunday evening at Essar Centre.

As the No. 3 rated club in the Canadian Junior Hockey League preseason rankings, Sault Ste. Marie started strong as rookie forward Nick Smith notched his first NOJHL goal 3:12 into the contest.

The Thunderbirds came right back and added another, a minute and a half later, on a Zach Senecal effort.

Senecal knocked in another at 18:06 as the T-Birds took a 3-0 into the intermission.

It was more offence in the middle session for the Soo as Mark Tassone tapped in his second of the campaign 95 seconds in, which spelled the end of Elliot Lake starter Justin Richer’s night in favour of Matt Kostiw.

The Thunderbirds greeted the new Wildcats goalkeeper at 5:51 as Gage Stephney collected his initial league tally to make it 5-0.

Elliot Lake did get on the board in the final minute of the second stanza with Ty Hannaford notching his second marker of the campaign as his effort eluded Soo goalkeeper Brandon Gordon.

The Soo got that back 36 seconds into the final frame thanks to Tassone, who picked up his second of the night.

Nick Long’s first league marker added one to the Wildcats slate, via the power play, at 2:54 of the third.

The Thunderbirds wrapped things up offensively with tallies from Keenan Eddy, his first in the league, at 6:04 and Matthew Caruso, with a couple of minutes left, rounded out the scoring.

Gage, Justin Ryyppo, Kelly Quevillon and Turner Santin dished out two assists apiece in the triumph as the T-Birds improved to 2-0-0-0 on the young season.

Shots on goal favoured the Soo by a 39-15 margin with Gordon picking up the win while Richer suffered the loss in 21:35 of work allowing the four against on 17 attempts. Kostiw saved 18 of 22 in relief as Elliot Lake fell to 1-2-0-0 overall.

Both clubs return to action Friday as the Thunderbirds host the rival Soo Eagles at Essar Centre at 7 p.m. while Elliot Lake entertains the Blind River Beavers at 7:30 p.m.

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