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Tuesday, Apr. 23, 2019
Thunderbirds push Canadians to the brink
2019-04-05
by Randy Pascal

The Soo Thunderbirds completely silenced the faithful supporting the Rayside-Balfour Canadians this week. As a result, coach John Parco and company are but a win away from a berth in the NOJHL (Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League) final.

After splitting the two game set in Sault Ste Marie to open the best of seven West Division final, the T-Birds ran roughshod over Rayside Wednesday night in Chelmsford, scoring two goals in each and every period en route to a 6-1 win.

Noah Boman paced the attack with a hat trick, with Brendan Miller, Kaiden MacDonald and Tyler Malpass adding one goal each. Ethan Lavallee spoiled the shutout bid of Soo netminder Colin Ahern, firing a seeing-eye shot at 11:45 of period three to close out the scoring.

The visitors outshot the Canadians 44-31, chasing starting goaltender David Bowen midway through the game, with the Wolves' prospect finishing with 21 saves, and Sebastien Plamondon adding 17 more in relief.

Game four, by contrast, remained up for grabs for the most part, especially early on as the teams traded first period goals, with Miller pulling the trigger for the Thunderbirds and Kyle Liinamaa doing likewise for the homeside, registering a short-handed tally.

The difference would come in the middle stanza when goals from Camden Findlay and Spence Van Tiem lifted the Saulites into a two-goal lead, one that they would maintain throughout a scoreless third period of play.

The Thunderbirds made it back to back games with at least 40 shots on net, as Bowen recorded 38 saves, compared to 34 for Ahern. The local NOJHLers will look to extend their season through to at least one more home game when they try and avoid elimination Saturday night at the GFL Memorial Gardens.

Game six, if required, goes Monday night in Chelmsford, with a seventh and deciding contest slated for Wednesday.

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