SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A Nick Smith power play goal with just 12.5 seconds remaining in regulation finalized a late third period comeback as the Soo Thunderbirds roared back to defeat the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-3 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Sunday matinee at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Following a scoreless opening frame, Jacob Hiltz put Kirkland Lake on the board nearly 11 minutes into the second stanza.
Sault Ste. Marie countered a couple of shifts later to knot the affair at 1-1 with Colton Hayes connecting for a third straight outing to put the home side on the board.
Heading later into the session, Hiltz added another to give the Gold Miners a one-goal cushion after two.
In the third, a two-man advantage helped the guests add to their lead when Max Newnam scored on the power play at 8:55.
After that though, the Thunderbirds struck twice close to a minute and a half apart to knot the affair at 3-3 as Tyler Savard and Matthew Bazarin converted in rapid succession with 6:32 still to play.
Then with time winding down and overtime looming, the Soo picked up a late power play and were rewarded deep in Kirkland Lake territory when the puck came to Smith, who skated into the right circle and snapped the game-winner into the opposite side of the net for his 13th goal of the season.
He also dished out two assists for a three-point afternoon.
Soo starter Colin Ahern kept his side in it and made 25 saves to record the comeback victory.
Gold Miners goaltender Kohl Reddy suffered the hard-luck setback seeing 42 shots fired his way in defeat.
Game Photos courtesy of Bob Davies