Hard-working and well-prepared, the Soo Eagles have become one of the hottest teams in the 12-member Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
The Michigan-based Eagles have won eight straight games to move ahead of the cross-border Soo Thunderbirds into sole possession of third place in the West Division of the NOJHL.
With the eight wins in succession, the Eagles now have 35 points from a record of 16-10-3. The fourth-place Thunderbirds have a record of 14-11-4, good for 32 points.
The latest victory for the Eagles was a 5-1 triumph over the East Division-leading Powassan Voodoos. The loss for Powassan ended its incredible streak of 21 victories in a row.
Goalie Shane Brancato has been a standout for the Eagles all season long. The third-year puck stopper has a record of 13-8-1 to go with a 2.67 goals against average and .925 save percentage.
“He gives us a chance to win every time he is in the net,” long-time Eagles goalie coach Bill Vanderleest said of Brancato. “Shane’s focus and attention to detail along with how he prepares himself help to make him one of the top two or three goalies in our entire league.
“He practices in the same manner as he plays in the games,” Vanderleest added in further praise of Brancato. “He is always looking to get better and take his game to a higher level. Shane is a great competitor and a great kid.”
Other Eagles who have had an outstanding season include forwards Dominic Skrelja and Caleb Wood and defenseman Brice French.
Skrelja leads the Eagles in scoring with 13 goals, 16 assists, 29 points. Wood, who hails from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is next with 14 goals, eight assists, 22 points. And despite having played in only 22 of the Eagles 29 games, French is third in scoring on the Eagles with six goals, 12 assists, 18 assists from his defense position.