Eagles a win away from upset of Thunderbirds



Release Date: Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Eagles a win away from upset of Thunderbirds

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – A Brad Hofelich goal, off a nifty deflection, 7:18 into the third period was the game-winner as the Soo Eagles edged the rival Soo Thunderbirds 3-2 Wednesday evening in Game 3 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at Pullar Stadium.

The Eagles now hold a three-games-to-none lead in this best-of-seven affair and will have a chance to complete a surprising sweep, while the Thunderbirds will look to keep their season going, in Game 4 Friday at 7:30 p.m. back at Pullar Stadium.

In Wednesday’s contest, the home side opened the scoring 4:20 in as Chris Lutz collected his second of the playoffs.

Zach Senecal levelled the proceedings for the Thunderbirds just over 12 minutes later as he finished off a Jake Behse feed.

The Eagles regained the lead midway through the second stanza as Chris Murphy broke into the Thunderbirds zone where he pulled up near the right face-off circle and snapped a rising wrister, blocker side, past Brandon Gordon.

Seam Emmerson tied it for the visitors with 4:33 left in the frame after doing some crafty stick work from in close before stuffing the equalizer past the outstretched pad on Eagles’ netminder Kade Phipps.

For a third time in the contest, the Eagles went in front, this time for good, as Hofelich deftly deflected a right point blast from Nick Trecroce that changed direction and went past Gordon with 12:42 remaining in regulation.

The Eagles held the fort from there to put the two-time defending NOJHL champion Thunderbirds on the brink of elimination.

Phipps turned in another solid performance for the Eagles making 46 saves on the night to record the victory.

Gordan faced 42 shots in defeat for the T-Birds, who dropped their third consecutive one-goal game.

West Division semifinal (Series E)
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 4 Soo Eagles
Eagles lead best-of-seven series 3-0
Game 1: Eagles 4 Thunderbirds 3 (2OT)
Game 2: Eagles 4 Thunderbirds 3
Game 3: Eagles 3 Thunderbirds 2
Game 4: Friday, March 24 @ Eagles 7:30 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 5*: Saturday, March 25 @ Thunderbirds 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 6*: Monday, March 27 @ Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 7*: Wednesday, March 29 @ Thunderbirds 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
*- if necessary