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Thunderbirds fall in Centennial Cup opener

The Thunderbirds will look to rebound on Friday against the Summerside Western Capitals
2022-05-19 Thunderbirds vs. Flin Flon Centennial Cup
Centennial Cup action between the NOJHL's Soo Thunderbirds and SJHL's Flin Flon Bombers at Affinity Arena in Estevan, Sask, on May 19, 2022.

It wasn’t an easy start.

The Soo Thunderbirds opened the 2022 Centennial Cup on Thursday with a 6-1 loss to the Flin Flon Bombers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League at Affinity Place in Estevan, Sask.

The Bombers took a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes before sealing the win with three goals in a four-minute span in the third period.

Thunderbirds coach Cole Jarrett called the Bombers opportunistic in the game.

“They capitalized on their opportunities, there’s no question about it,” Jarrett said. “Our boys did a really good job in a really tough game of competing and playing within our structure. We had a few mistakes that ultimately ended up in the back of our net, but I was proud of our group, which isn’t something I would normally say in a 6-1 loss. In a tough environment, playing against a really tough opponent, they rose to the challenge and if we can keep building from here, that’s a good starting block.”

Jarrett also referred to the Bombers as “the best opponent we’ve seen all season.”

“The mental mistakes that we were making and getting away with in our league, those mistakes are magnified at this level,” Jarrett said. “Definitely, it was a really good learning experience for the kids. In tournament play, we have to keep building. It’s obviously not the result we wanted, but definitely a lot of good things that we can take away from that game moving forward that can help us as we go through the round robin.”

Jaxon Martens opened the scoring for the Bombers when he beat Thunderbirds goaltender Noah Metivier with a shot from the top of the left circle high glove side at 13:36 of the opening period.

Drew Kuzma made it 2-0 just 2:28 later when he scored on a rebound near the side of the goal after Metivier stopped Jaeden Mercier initially on the play.

Flin Flon’s Jacob Vockier made it 3-0 at 11:58 of the second period when he scored on a back-door, cross-slot pass from Zak Smith.

The Thunderbirds got on the board early in the third period when Michael Chaffay took a touch-pass from Kelsey Ouellet in the left faceoff circle and beat Bombers goaltender Cal Schell high glove side at 4:20.

Just 2:10 later, Flin Flon restored the three-goal lead when Xavier Lapointe beat Metivier with a shot from the right point through traffic at the edge of the crease.

Mercier made it 5-1 at 9:04 of the third when he stepped past Thunderbirds Kaeden Dundas before beating Metivier with a shot from the right faceoff circle.

Brett Wieschorster capped off the scoring for the Bombers at 10:14 when he beat Metivier with a shot from the left faceoff circle after Metivier stopped a shot by Reece Richmond from the high slot initially.

Metivier made 24 saves for the Thunderbirds in the loss while Schell stopped 16 of 17 shots for Flin Flon.

Mercier paced the Bombers with a goal and three assists in the victory while Smith assisted on three goals.

The Thunderbirds are back in action on Friday when the team takes on the Maritime League’s Summerside Western Capitals.

“We need the same effort, and we need to limit our turnovers and mistakes,” Jarrett said of the message heading into Friday’s contest. “It’s a hard reality to grasp that you have to play a perfect game here each and every time out to give yourself a chance to win.”

Following Friday’s game, the Thunderbirds will be off over the weekend before returning to action on Monday against the Central Canada League’s Ottawa Jr. Senators.

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Brad Coccimiglio

About the Author: Brad Coccimiglio

A graduate of Loyalist College’s Sports Journalism program, Brad Coccimiglio’s work has appeared in The Hockey News as well as online at FoxSports.com in addition to regular freelance work with SooToday before joining the team full time.
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