It was a close game through more than half of it.
But the Soo Thunderbirds eventually broke through to dispatch the visiting Espanola Express 8-1 in Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League play from tonight.
In fact, the match was scoreless until late in the first period when Thunderbirds defenseman Cam Dutkiewicz — a graduate of the Timmins Majors of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League — fired a howitzer of a shot past Express starting goalie Carson Boutin.
The score would remain that way until just past the midway part of the second period when local lad Caleb Wood scored successive goals to give the Soo a 3-0 lead.
And while Sault Ste. Marie product Cole Delarosbil potted his third goal of the season for Espanola in the final seconds of the second stanza, the third period belonged to the home team.
Third period goals by Tyson Doucette, Michael Chaffay, Parker Morgan and Cooper Smyl, with his third and fourth of the season, finished off the resounding 8-1 verdict for the Soo, which got 30 saves from Scott Young.
Rookie defenseman Connor Toms, a third round pick of the Soo Greyhounds at the 2020 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft, helped out with three assists for the Thunderbirds.
The triumph for the Thunderbirds tips their record to 2-2-1 for the season while Express dips to a 3-2-2 mark.
The two teams will face off three more times in the days ahead — Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at John Rhodes Community Center in Sault Ste. Marie and Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.