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Cubs and the Thunderbirds deadlocked at two
2024-03-27

We are down to a best of three in the first round NOJHL West Division semi-final series between the Greater Sudbury Cubs and the Soo Thunderbirds.

Just days after the third place T-Birds turned the tables on home ice advantage thanks to a 3-2 overtime win at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, the local juniors returned the favour.

The Soo went up 2-1 in the best of seven affair Monday night in the Lock City, doubling the Cubs 4-2 - only to see Sudbury bounce right back last night, clipping the Thunderbirds 4-3 to send the matchup back to the Nickel City all even at two games apiece.

The defending West Division champs jumped out to a 2-0 lead at home in game three as Harley Wardell and Kelsey Ouellet hit the mark, with Marshall McCharles halving the deficit for Sudbury a little over a minute later with his second in as many games.

The Thunderbirds regained their two goal cushion when Jonathan Sonedecker beat Noah Metivier for the only goal of period two, a lead that would be put to the test after Hudson Chitaroni scored early in the third to make it 3-2.

It remained that way until the latter stages of this encounter when Daniel Beaupre found the back of the empty-net with his team playing short-handed, second the home crowd home happy.

The goaltenders of record continue to be Kolton Bourret for the Soo (W - 35/37) and Noah Metivier for Sudbury (L - 36/39).

Cameron Shanks was back in the lineup for Sudbury after being assessed a match penalty late in game two, an infraction that was subsequently overturned.

The Soo would strike first again in game four as Jacob Smith pulled the trigger 7:16 into the contest, with Justin Seguin knotting the battle at 1-1 with just his third goal of the season later in the frame.

From there, Sudbury would go to work on the power play.

Samuel Assinewai accounted for the only goal of period two, his team up a man, converting on passes from Oliver Smith and Hudson Martin.

Tagged for infractions 1:35 apart in the third period, the T-Birds could not escape either penalty unharmed as Assinewai drilled home his second of the game, with Ethan Larmand following suit 32 seconds later, giving the Cubs a 4-1 lead.

The penalty pendulum would swing the opposite direction later in the frame allowing Sault Ste Marie to mount a frantic comeback as Daniel Beaupre (16:14) and Jacob Smith (18:07) scored less than two minutes apart, making things close down to the final buzzer.

The goalies flipped places from game three as Metivier picked up the win with a 20-save effort while Bourret recorded the loss in spite of turning aside 36 of the 40 shots that he faced.

Game five is set for Thursday night in Sudbury (Gerry McCrory Countryside), with game six set for Saturday in the Soo and game seven, if necessary, back at the home of the Cubs on Monday, April 1st.

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