KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds are Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy champions for a second consecutive season.
Sault Ste. Marie captured their latest crown Friday evening after they blanked the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 7-0 in Game 4 of the finals at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex to sweep the best-of-seven series.
Both clubs will now gear up to compete in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A championship with the Thunderbirds advancing as NOJHL champions while the Gold Miners will serve as the host club of the event, which runs May 3-7 in Kirkland Lake.
Joining the two NOJHL teams will be the title holders of the Ontario Junior and Superior International Junior Hockey Leagues.
In Friday’s contest the opening 20 minutes was scoreless.
However the middle session was all T-Birds as they broke the game open by tallying four times in the stanza.
The offensive outburst began with a Matt Pinder effort at 3:36.
Darian Pilon added to the lead three and a half minutes later with Aidan Salerno making it 3-0 at 13:06.
Michael Caruso capped off the frame with 18 seconds left in the second via the power play.
The Thunderbirds capped off the series by notching three more markers in the third courtesy of Pinder, while up a man, Salerno’s second as well as a man advantage effort late from Adam McPhail to round things out.
Connor Ryckman was once again unbeatable between the pipes for the Soo turning aside all 25 shots he faced to post his league-leading sixth playoff shutout while earning the victory.
Joe Marcouiller suffered the defeat in net for the Gold Miners seeing two periods of action allowing four against on 18 attempts.
Tyler Mazzocato played the third for the home side saving 11 of 14 in relief.
For the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Sault Ste. Marie wins best-of-seven series 4-0
Game 1: Sault Ste. Marie 3 Kirkland Lake 0
Game 2: Sault Ste. Marie 3 Kirkland Lake 1
Game 3: Sault Ste. Marie 5 Kirkland Lake 1
Game 4: Sault Ste. Marie 7 Kirkland Lake 0