Thunderbirds open NOJHL seasonFriday, September 06, 2013 by: Brad Coccimiglio
After a pre-season that saw them go 5-0 in tournament action in Elliot Lake, the Soo Thunderbirds officially kicked off the 2013-14 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League season on Friday night.
The Thunderbirds skated to a 6-3 win over the North Bay Trappers at the Essar Centre as the regular season opened up, giving coach Jordan Smith regular season win as the Thunderbirds bench boss.
“We started the game well and I thought we got away from what we were trying to do (in the first period),” said Thunderbirds coach Jordan Smith. “We re-grouped the boys during the intermission and they came out playing the way we want to play. It’s a very simple system. Outwork the other team, get pucks deep and use the cycle. There’s not going to be many teams that can play with us down low.”
Trappers coach Zane Neily questioned the urgency of his team in the loss.
“In the first and third periods, it was an even game,” said Neily. “In the second period we had a lapse. We just need to find a way to put 60 minutes together.”
“We weren’t urgent enough,” Neily said. “We weren’t showing any urgency in the second period. We were just letting (the Thunderbirds) go wherever they wanted to go.”
The locals opened the scoring in the first period thanks to a goal by Jaren Bellini. The Thunderbirds then broke the game open in the second period thanks to goals by Anthony Butorac, Gavin Burbach and Anthony Miller. Burbach and Derek Battagin scored third-period goals for the Thunderbirds in the win.
Ryan Demyen scored a pair of goals for North Bay while Zach Turner also scored.
Thunderbirds goaltender Joel Horodziejczyk stopped 19 shots while Trappers goaltender Dustin Hummel stopped 29 shots.
Smith added that the Thunderbirds got in trouble at times in the win.
“When we did get into trouble we had got away from what we were trying to do,” said Smith. “As soon as the boys can identify that and understand that teams are going to have a hard time playing against us if we play to the level that we’re capable of, there’s not going to be many teams that can hang with us.”
In other NOJHL action on Friday night, the Elliot Lake Bobcats picked up a 7-3 win over the Blind River Beavers on home ice. Andrew Palushaj scored three times in the win while Kyle Rowe had a goal and two assists for Elliot Lake. Sam Wilbur had a goal and two assists for Blind River in the loss.
In Kirkland Lake, Mathieu Lecompte had three goals and an assist while Alex Hufford added a goal and two assists as the Gold Miners beat the Espanola Rivermen 8-3. Brandon Janke had a goal and an assist for Espanola in the loss.
Earlier in the week, the Abitibi Eskimos picked up a 3-2 road win over the Sudbury Nickel Barons. Zach Innes had a goal and an assist in the win. Ryan Punkari assisted on both Sudbury goals.
Photo courtesy Kenneth Armstrong