GALLERY: Thunderbirds come back to outlast rival Eagles 7-5

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A four-goal second stanza proved pivotal as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to topple the cross-border rival Soo Eagles 7-5 in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Saturday at John Rhodes Community Centre.

Eric Vanderhoff, on the power play, and Jacob Bumbaco at even strength had the Eagles up by a pair with the contest just over 13 minutes old.

Jacob Kovacs’ team-leading 21st put the Thunderbirds on the board as his man advantage effort made it 2-1 after one period of play.

The second stanza was all Ontario Soo as they connected four times in the session to gain the upper hand in the match-up.

After Jordan Broome tied it at 9:25, Tyler Savard put the hosts in front just over a minute later.

Not done there, they tacked on two more in rapid succession late in the frame as Avery Rebek and Cooper Smyl connected 35 seconds apart to add to the Thunderbirds cushion.

In the third, Caleb Wood’s 19th brought the Eagles back to within two at 7:09, but Savard answered that during a power play midway through the session to make it 6-3.

Battling back, the visitors got two more off the sticks of Malik Ali and Bobby Price to fight their way back to within a goal with still over two minutes to play.

The Eagles continued to press for an equalizer, but the Thunderbirds got the puck out of their own zone in the final moments which helped Mackenzie Walkington score into an empty net to help secure the win for the home team.

Shots on net finished 37-31 in favour of the Thunderbirds with Sam Evola getting the victory while Shane Brancato suffered the loss.