SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A Nolan Ford marker with just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation held up as the game-winner as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to edge the Hearst Lumberjacks 4-3 in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Saturday at John Rhodes Community Centre.
First period play saw Sault Ste. Marie gain the early edge with Nick Smith notching his ninth goal of the season at 8:41 as he extended a modest point streak to three in the process.
The Thunderbirds then went up by a pair a couple shifts later as Matthew Barazin connected on the power play with help from Smith and Lucas Theriault as he tallied for the third time in two outings.
Battling back, Hearst cut into the deficit before the frame was complete on Jake Desando’s seventh at 15:51.
Action in the middle stanza then saw the Lumberjacks draw level on Davely Fortin’s first NOJHL marker.
Picking up a two-man advantage early in the third helped the Soo regain the lead again as Noah Boman put in his seventh 86 seconds into the frame.
Ford then added to the Thunderbirds cushion at 8:58 to go to put them back up by two.
Continuing to compete, Hearst moved to within one with 2:43 remaining in regulation thanks to Max Griffioen, who picked up his 10th tally of the season to move the guests closer.
However, the Thunderbirds held tight from there the rest of the way to secure the triumph.
William Anderson in the Soo net made 20 saves to record the victory while Hearst goalkeeper Tomi Gagnon stopped 17 of 21 in defeat.
With the outcome, the Soo improved to 12-3-0-0 overall while Hearst slipped to 7-8-1-0 on the campaign.
Game Photos courtesy of Rod Aubertin – SSM Photos