PHOTOS: Rob Fera – Sudbury Light Event Photography
SUDBURY, Ont. – Greater Sudbury Cubs captain Oliver Smith notched his fifth career Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League hat trick Thursday night to help send his side past the Soo Eagles 8-4 in a match-up held at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.
Gaining the early edge, Greater Sudbury opened the scoring 3:52 into the proceedings by breaking out of their own zone in transition and saw Marshall McCharles skate down the right wing and send a cross-ice pass to an open Hudson Martin, who snapped a low glove side shot past Sault Ste. Marie starter Marino Ramirez.
Answering with an equalizer, the Eagles drew level near the midway mark of the first period as they used a couple of crisp passes to send Kenny Belanger Jr., darting in alone on Cubs’ goaltender Noah Beaulne and saw the Soo forward fire his attempt by the blocker, and in, for his initial marker of the campaign.
Regaining the lead early in the middle stanza, Greater Sudbury’s Cameron Shanks set-up teammate Smith cruising down the slot where he whipped a wrist shot that flew past Martinez.
Battling back once again, the visitors tied it at 3:09 when Belanger Jr., notched his second of the night as he ventured down the left wing boards and roofed one, short side, on Beaulne.
Countering on the next shift, the hosts went back in front as Smith struck again when he knocked down a Cole Quevillon left point shot and tucked the puck past the outstretched pad of the Eagles’ netminder.
Continuing to exchange tallies, the Soo tied it once again a couple of shifts later thanks to Benjamin Pouliot’s connecting in his NOJHL debut as he neatly finished off a two-on-one with Jack Paweski.
With still over a half a game to play, the Cubs power play went to work to make it 4-3 as McCharles slid in the back door and buried a crisp feed from Nolan Newton.
Staying that way into the final frame, Greater Sudbury went up by a pair after Shanks dashed into the Eagles’ zone, then wheeled around the net and saw his wrap around attempt slide right across to Smith who finished off his three-goal performance from close range.
Getting another one moments after the draw, Brock Houser’s rising shot from point sailed through a screen into the top right hand corner for his initial league marker.
Just 23 seconds after that, Paweski pulled the guests back to within two as he took a Pouliot feed and lifted it over Beaulne.
However, Ben Harris then banged in a rebound off a Martin chance before Newton put the game away after taking his time on an odd-man rush and going five-hole for his third of the young season.
Coming in the rest of the way after that for the guests saw Anthony Zolezzi turn in nine and a half minutes of spotless relief in his initial league appearance.
With the result, the Cubs improved to 3-0 while the Eagles fell to 0-2.