GALLERY: Soo solid in road win at Blind River

BLIND RIVER, Ont. – Cooper Smyl scored three times to collect his first Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League hat trick in leading the Soo Thunderbirds to a 7-2 decision over the Blind River Beavers in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League matinee Sunday at the Blind River Community Centre.

The hometown Beavers did get off to a good start in this one, notching the day’s opening tally six and a half minutes as Justin Mauro banged in the rebound off a shot from the left point from Lucas Adams.

It was all Thunderbirds after that though as a late offensive outburst put them in control.

Smyl got the first one for Sault Ste. Marie as he clicked on the power play by finishing off a nice passing play with Brock Santa Maria and Dylan Parsons at 12:04.

More Thunderbirds a couple of shifts later featured Parker Morgan picking the short side corner from the left faceoff circle.

Picking up a penalty shot later in the first period after it was ruled a Blind River defender had covered the puck in the crease with his hand, the guests tacked on another.

It resulted in Smyl skating down before making a nifty deke left and scoring on Beavers’ netminder Wyatt Courchaine.

Not done there, the Soo struck once more moments later as Cameron Dutkiewicz jammed one in from in close during a goal-mouth scramble to make it 4-1 after 20 minutes.

The guests added to their lead 4:37 into the middle stanza when Connor Toms cranked a blast from the left wing that flew into the back of the net.

Getting one back before the second intermission, the hosts Matt Cato fired a shot from the right side that hit iron and he raced around the net and knocked in a back hand before Thunderbirds’ goalkeeper Alex Bugeja could get his pad across in an effort to keep it out.

Adding some insurance in the final frame, Ty Zachary got to a loose puck at the top of the crease and chipped in his third of the campaign with just under 12 minutes remaining.

Then, after a couple of point-blank saves by Bugeja, his side broke out three on one and the play was finished by Smyl as he wired a shot into the top right hand corner off a rush from the left wing to round out the scoring.

Russell Oldham chipped in with two assists for the winners.

Bugeja made 23 saves to record the win while Courchaine faced 43 attempts in defeat.

The clubs are slated to meet again Tuesday at John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie. Game time is 7 p.m., and can viewed online via