ESPANOLA, Ont. – After having to sit out the 2019-20 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League season due to border closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Soo Eagles returned to the win column Saturday after doubling up the Espanola Express 4-2 at the Regional Recreation Complex.
Still unable to play games at Pullar Stadium for the time being, the Michigan-side served as the home team in this one.
The Eagles were first to strike as Chase Tallaire took a nice chip-pass from Brian Fiddes and proceeded to fly down the right wing and rip a shot into the left side past the blocker of Express netminder Patrick Boivin.
Down a skater in the middle stanza, Espanola tied it on a Kobe Braham shorthanded effort as he zipped down the ice on a partial break and rifled a shot into the top left hand corner on Soo goalkeeper Gabe Rosek.
Shorthanded themselves a couple of shifts later, the Eagles answered that when Jacob Swiatek’s opening NOJHL tally came as he intercepted a pass attempt and darted down the ice and went right before lifting a backhander past Boivin.
It was more Eagles late is the period as Tallaire bagged his second of the evening during a power play at 17:55 as he took a Isaiah Gagerman pass in front and outwaited Boivin before putting it into the back of the net.
The Soo added some insurance 6:19 into the third as Max Povorozniouk neatly deflected a feed from the side boards as he cruised through the top of the crease to get his first goal in the league.
Pulling closer on a two-man advantage, Kyle Caron drove wide to the right side using his speed and snapped a shot from the sharp angle that eluded Rosek.
However, the Eagles held firm from there to register their first NOJHL regular season triumph since February 29, 2020, which was a 4-3 decision over the rival Soo Thunderbirds.
Getting the win was Rosek, who faced 37 shots against while Boivin handled 37 of 41 in defeat.