SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Kobe Keller scored on the power play with just over six minutes remaining to break a tie game as the Soo Eagles defeated the Soo Thunderbirds 3-2 Monday evening in Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at John Rhodes Community Centre.
The Eagles flew out of the gate in this one by grabbing a 1-0 lead 37 seconds after the opening face-off on Jacob Palmerio’s first of the playoffs.
Up a man later in the session, the Thunderbirds drew level as their team captain, Noah Slinger, beat Eagles’ starter Carter McPhail at 16:24.
On the power play to begin the second stanza, the home side took the lead at 1:17 when Nick Smith connected with assists going to Robert Calisti and Tristan Cicchello.
However, the visitors came right back to knot the affair at 2-2 just 40 seconds later on a Gianni Vialli even strength marker.
The Thunderbirds pressed to retake the lead firing 18 shots on McPhail in the period, only to be denied by the Eagles’ goalkeeper.
Keller then picked up the decider in the final frame while up a skater as he finished off the work of Nick Techel and Kellen Tharaldson.
McPhail did the rest, finishing with 37 saves in total to record the win.
Brandon Gordon faced 32 shots in defeat for the Thunderbirds.
With the result, this best-of-seven series is now tied at a game apiece heading in Game 3 Wednesday evening at Pullar Stadium in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
All the action will get underway at 7:30 p.m.
West Division semifinal
No. 2 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 3 Soo Eagles
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
Game 1: Thunderbirds 4 Eagles 3 (OT)
Game 2: Eagles 3 Thunderbirds 2
Game 3: Wednesday, March 21 @ Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 4: Friday, March 23 @ Eagles 7:30 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 5: Saturday, March 24 @ Thunderbirds 7:30 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 6*: Monday, March 26 @ Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game7*: Wednesday, March 28 @ Thunderbirds 7:30 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
*- if necessary
Photos courtesy of James Egan’s Sports Photography