SAULT STE. MARIE, Michigan — Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League continued their high flight on Friday night before a noisy crowd of more than 1,000 fans here at venerable Pullar Stadium.
Ben Pouliot and Nolan Hendry both entertained the big crowd with hat trick performances, Jack Paweski scored once and added two assists and Marino Ramirez made 28 saves as the Eagles soared past the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners by a resounding 7-2 score.
After losing their first two games of the 2023-2024 NOJHL regular season, the Eagles have since garnered 15 of a possible 16 points with a record of 7-0-1 over their last eight outings. At 7-2-1, the Eagles are one of five teams of the six in the super competitive West Division who all have winning records.
The goals scored by Pouliot, Hendry and Paweski further added to the balance of the Eagles offensive attack. All three players, along with team captain Kenny Belanger, now have six goals on the season.
Belanger, while Friday’s scoresheet showed only an assist for him, the towering centre was a tower of strength in dominating the face-off circle for the Eagles.
The Eagles totally dominated the contest, especially during the second and third periods when they turned a 2-0 lead into the 7-2 victory. Ramirez was particularly sharp between the pipes for the Eagles in the first period.
Coby Fox also turned in an eye-catching performance for the Eagles with two assists from his defense position.
Newcomer Landon Stevens also showed well for the Eagles in his NOJHL debut after starting the season with the Calgary Canucks of the Alberta Jr. Hockey League. The hustling forward had an assist and was clearly noticeable whenever he was on the ice.
The Eagles have another home game this weekend, a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee match at the Pullar against the visiting Hearst Lumberjacks.
For Kirkland Lake, Riley Babich scored both goals in the defeat and the Gold Miners now have a record of 3-5-2 on the season.
Meanwhile, 16-year old rookie defenseman Cole Ellis stood out on the Gold Miners blue line. Hailing from the remote northern Ontario town of Chapleau, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound Ellis was a 15th-round pick by the Kingston Frontenacs from the Timmins Majors of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League at the 2023 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.