PHOTOS: Caleigh Fera – Sudbury Light Event Photography
SUDBURY, Ont. – The defending Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Soo Thunderbirds will have a chance to defend their title.
That came about Thursday evening when they defeated the Greater Sudbury Cubs 7-3 in Game 5 of the NOJHL’s West Division final at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.
The outcome sees the Thunderbirds take the best-of-seven match-up 4-1 and they’ll now meet the Timmins Rock in the upcoming league final.
Breaking the ice offensively, Sault Ste. Marie opened the scoring just over five minutes into the first period when Youssef Chaouachi fired a rising shot that Greater Sudbury starter Noah Metivier could not contain, which allowed Wyatt Marlow to jam in his fourth of the playoffs.
Coming back to tie it at 11:28, the Cubs won a draw in their own zone and moved it ahead where Cole Crowder made a nice back pass across to Samuel Assinewai, who dashed in and fired a shot over the blocker of Thunderbirds goalkeeper Landon Miller.
Regaining the lead prior to the intermission, Justin Mauro knocked down a clearing attempt in the neutral zone, then fed Dharan Cap, who put a play to the net that was steered in by Wyatt Marlow.
Moving to the second stanza, the Soo extended their cushion during a man advantage and saw Kaden Dundas launch one from inside the blueline that sailed past a screened Metivier.
Making it 4-1, Brodie McConnell-Barker wheeled out from the end boards and fed Kolby Fellinger at the top of the left circle where his shot clipped off the stick of a Greater Sudbury and saw it change direction enough to slide through the legs of the Cubs’ goalkeeper.
That also prompted a goaltending change, with Noah Beaulne coming in and going the rest of the way for the home side.
Despite that, Marlow bagged his second of the night as he lifted one up high while stationed to the right of the crease.
Action in the final frame saw the Soo connect just over a minute in when Cap buried one from the high slot to help put the game away.
Getting one back midway through session, Devin Shoreman fired one to the front of the net where Nolan Newton redirected it in.
Exchanging markers before time expired, Jacob Smith of the T-Birds and the Cubs’ Pierson Sobush wrapped the scoring in the series.
NOJHL West Division Final
Game 1: Thunderbirds 5 Cubs 2
Game 2: Thunderbirds 5 Cubs 2
Game 3: Cubs 5 Thunderbirds 2
Game 4: Thunderbirds 4 Cubs 3 (OT)
Game 5: Thunderbirds 7 Cubs 3
Soo wins best-of-seven series 4-1