They weren’t anticipating a Saturday night at Pullar Stadium in the Michigan Sault, but the Soo Thunderbirds returned to action in a game against the Soo Eagles and picked up a key divisional Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League win.
After a COVID-19 case led to the postponement of a game between the Eagles and Greater Sudbury Cubs originally scheduled for Saturday, a change in scheduling led to the Thunderbirds rescheduling a home game against the Espanola Express and taking the game against the Eagles.
Goaltender Noah Metivier made 33 saves as the Thunderbirds blanked the Eagles 3-0, which included a busy third period in which the 17-year-old made 16 stops.
The shutout is Metivier’s second of the season.
The Thunderbirds opened the scoring late in the first period when Samuel Lake picked up the puck in the slot and beat Eagles goaltender Ryan Gilmore high at 16:29.
Moments after Eagles defenceman Isaiah Gagerman hit the post on a shot from the left point, Alfred Rotiroti took the puck the other way, broke down the left wing and beat Gilmore short side with a backhand high at 8:36 of the third period.
Kelsey Ouellet, who assisted on Rotiroti’s insurance goal earlier in the period, capped off the scoring with an empty net goal in the final minute of regulation time.
Gilmore made 20 saves for the Eagles.
Winners of four of their last five games, with their lone loss a shootout decision last weekend against the Eagles, the Thunderbirds improve to 17-4-1-3.
The loss snaps a four-game winning streak for the Eagles, who fall to 14-5-1-0.
Saturday’s contest between the two clubs makes up for an earlier game between the two clubs that was postponed due to the closure of the Canada/United States border.
The Thunderbirds return to action on Dec. 10 at home against the Blind River Beavers in a 7:30 p.m. start at the John Rhodes Community Centre. The team was scheduled to face the Cubs the following night, also at the Rhodes, but that game has been postponed and will be rescheduled.