Photos: Marc-André Longval
HEARST, Ont. – A pair of Andrew Gibson markers, including the game-winner, helped send the Soo Thunderbirds on their way to their 12th Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League win in a row Friday as they doubled up the Hearst Lumberjacks 4-2 at Clause Larose Recreation Centre.
The result also put an end to the 12-game victory run the Lumberjacks had been on.
It took just over three minutes into the proceedings for Hearst’s Robbie Rutledge to notch his 34th goal of the season as he steered in a Raphael Lajeunesse set-up from behind the goal line that got past Thunderbirds Noah Metivier during an early power play.
Picking up a number of man advantage opportunities of their own in the middle session, Sault Ste. Marie eventually capitalized on a nice play by Brock Santa Maria who came in on Matteo Gennaro in the Lumberjacks and patiently outwaited him and eventually slid one into the corner for his 12th tally of the campaign.
The Soo came right back and notched another moments later that allowed Youssef Chaouachi to dart in alone after a blocking a shot and neatly slide one between Gennaro’s legs to put the guests up by one.
Not down there, the Thunderbirds struck again at 15:35 as they saw Gibson wire one over the glove of Gennaro from the right face off dot.
Regrouping, Hearst made it 3-2 just over a minute later compliments of a Lajeunesse snap shot from the slot as he buried a Zachary Demers pass.
Holding a one-goal lead into the third, the Thunderbirds came out in numbers on a rush and saw Kenny Belanger Jr. lay a pass across over to Gibson, who moved in a zipped his second of the night to help secure the road victory with less than half a period to play in what was his 20th tally of the campaign, which tops all NOJHL defencemen.
The Soo defensive corps, led by Metivier, did the rest to help keep their winning streak on the go.
With the result, the Thunderbirds also improved to a league-best record of 32-5-2-3, with their 69 points pacing the NOJHL.
In defeat, the Lumberjacks dropped to 31-8-2-0 overall.