Special teams at every level can turn into a difference-maker.
The Soo Thunderbirds learned that on Friday night in the opening game of a weekend home-and-home series with the Soo (Mich.) Eagles at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Eagles scored twice on the power play, including a marker by Kobe Keller with just under nine minutes to go in regulation time as the Eagles picked up a 4-3 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League win over the Thunderbirds.
Keller beat Thunderbirds goaltender Colin Ahern from the right faceoff circle to give the Eagles a 4-1 lead at the time and the team would hold off a late charge by the Thunderbirds that saw the home club score a pair of goals in the final five minutes of the contest to make it close.
Keller finished the night with a goal and two assists for the Eagles.
Lucas Theriault, Nick Smith, and Brendan Miller scored for the Thunderbirds. Noah Boman assisted on a pair of goals.
Ahern made 25 saves for the locals.
Brendan Blair and Dominic Skrelja chipped in with a goal and an assist for the Eagles. Riley Jensen also scored.
Eagles goaltender Shane Brancato stopped 29 shots.
The Thunderbirds hold a record of 34-10-0-1 while the Eagles improve to 23-20-2-1.
The two teams return to action on Saturday as they wrap up the weekend set at Pullar Stadium in Sault, Mich. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.