The Soo Thunderbirds and the Elliot Lake Wildcats hit the ice at the Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake on Saturday August 30th at 7:30 p.m. Tonight’s game was the first 2014 – 2015 pre-season game for both teams.
With 51 seconds left in the first period and on a Wildcat power play, Nathan Campbell scored Elliot Lake’s first goal in the inaugural game as the Wildcats with assists from Joel Kittleberger and Phil Clouthier. At the 2:18 mark of the second period, 16 year old Jacob Porco of the Soo tied the game 1 – 1 with assists from defenseman and forward Matt Caruso.
Scoring his second ever junior hockey goal, Porco put the Thunderbirds up 2 – 1 at 11:13 of the second with contributors from veterans Anthony Miller and Jaren Bellini. Alec MacKenize of the Wildcats evened the game at 2 – 2 with helpers from Cole Hepler and Nathan Campbell at 13:07 of the second with a goal behind Thunderbird rookie netminder Mario Culina.
With 4:01 left in the first overtime, forward Matt Pinder sank the winning goal at the 15:59 mark of the fourth period with assists from veteran Owen Headrick and rookie Matt Caruso.
Coach Hewitt told the Junior Hockey Network that “the guys were right in the game and kept up with the Thunderbirds throughout the whole game. Unfortunately we haven’t had time to work on our power play and couldn’t capitalize on the man advantages. Tonight was a good sign of what is come for the Elliot Lake Wildcats.”
The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League is compared to the Cenral Canada Hockey League when it comes to talent and competitiveness from top to bottom, said Hewitt.
The Thunderbirds will be back in on September 5th and 6th in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan when they face the North American Hockey League Soo Eagles in a two game series in the Rollie King Cup. Puck drop will be 7:30 p.m on Friday and 7:00 p.m on Saturday at the Pullar Stadium.