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Eagles earn shootout decision over Thunderbirds

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Blake Vaca and Tommy Buis both converted in the shootout to help lift the Soo Eagles to a narrow 4-3 decision over the Soo Thunderbirds Friday in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play in front of 820 fans at Pullar Stadium.

The visiting Thunderbirds were the first to get on the board in this one as Orrin Grangroth notched his second for his squad to give the guests the early edge.

Coming back, the Eagles equalized during a power play later in the frame as Vaca converted with help from Dominic Skrelja and Kyle Quinn.

Action in the second stanza saw the Ontario Soo regain the lead 2:08 in with Matthew Bazarin scoring for a sixth time on the year.

Countering in the third, Ryan Dacks and Tucker Harris tallied one-minute apart to help the Eagles take a 3-2 lead.

Battling back, the Thunderbirds forced overtime with just over three minutes remaining in regulation on Kurtis Roger’s first of the season.

The visitors had some chances in OT to win it, but could not solve Eagles starter Shane Brancato.

Heading to extra shots, Tyler Dunbar for the guests and Baca for the hosts both scored on similar snap snots with each team’s first shot.

After a Brancato stop, Buis came in and lifted a backhand over the pad of Thunderbirds goalkeeper Colin Ahern to give the Eagles the edge.

The Ontario Soo was then foiled on their final chance off a Matthew Bazarin attempt, which in turn gave the home side the victory.

Shots on goal favoured the Eagles 40-30 with Brancato picking up the win while Ahern’s efforts helped the Thunderbirds pick up a point in defeat.