SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Diego Pasula tallied twice while Matais Salem dished out three assists as the Espanola Express skated to their first-ever victory over the Soo Thunderbirds, a 5-2 decision, in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division meeting Saturday at John Rhodes Community Centre.
It was the Thunderbirds’ Tyler Dunbar who started the scoring near the 14-minute mark of the opening frame as Soo defenceman converted for a second straight outing.
In the middle stanza, the Express got on track past the midway point of the contest when Josh Boucher and Cameron Walker combined to set-up Cole Delarosbil as he tallied in consecutive games while collecting his third goal overall.
Going to the power play a couple shifts later, Espanola went in front as Pasula converted on the man advantage.
It was more from the visitors at 14:58 as recently acquired Zach Trempner notched his first NOJHL tally to give the Express a 3-1 lead, which they took into the third period.
Sault Ste. Marie pulled back to within one midway through the final frame compliments of Avery Rebek’s third.
Skating four aside, Espanola moments later and capitalized with Pasula picking up another.
They then wrapped up the road decision with a couple of minutes remaining as the visitors saw Alex Simard pick up his initial NOJHL tally to round out the night’s scoring.
According to files from NOJHL historian David Harrison, this was the 31st meeting between the two teams and the initial triumph for the Express.
Making 33 saves to record the win for Espanola was Joel Rainville while Colin Ahern faced 37 attempts in defeat.
Game Photos courtesy of Bob Davies