Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – The surging Soo Thunderbirds skated to their eighth straight Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League victory Friday as they topped the Espanola Paper Kings 5-3 at John Rhodes Community Centre.
An early power play got Sault Ste. Marie off to a sold start as Wyatt Marlow collected his 13th tally of the season as he banged one in from the right of Espanola netminder Jake Marois, just over two minutes into the contest.
Answering with a two-man advantage effort, the Paper Kings tied it at 9:36 when Spencer Horgan skated in and fired a shot by Thunderbirds’ goalkeeper Kolton Bourret.
Regaining the lead, the Soo’s Brock Santa Maria was set-up in front by Justin Mauro and then then made a quick move to his left and lifted one over Marois.
Santa Maria then added another 3:18 into the middle frame and his used some more crafty stickwork in tight and snapped in his second of the contest.
Battling back, the Paper Kings countered with markers just over a minute apart to level the proceedings.
Hunter Friesen made it 3-2 after he chipped in an Liam Bridgeman feed in front.
The guests then tied it moments after a big save by Marois as Espanola came back in transition and saw Will Bishop beat Bourret from a sharp angle for his first NOJHL goal.
Going back on top at 15:27, the T-Bird’s Mauro slid one into the open side, under a diving Marois.
The score stayed 4-3 Thunderbirds into the late going when Marlow iced it with an empty netter as he cruised into the Espanola end and slid in his second of the evening to cap off the outcome.
With the result, the Soo improved to 22-9-2-1 as they continued their winning ways and also saw Bourret come away with his eighth consecutive triumph between the pipes
With the loss, Espanola dropped to 16-13-2-2 overall.