GALLERY: Showcase concludes with Thunderbirds shootout win over Crunch

SUDBURY, Ont. – Lucas Theriault of the Soo Thunderbirds notched the lone goal in the shootout to lift his side to a 4-3 victory over the Cochrane Crunch in an action-packed finale to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Showcase Wednesday at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.

Down a man in the latter stages of the opening frame, it was the Crunch that connected with Baldino Aiello picking up his fourth tally of the Showcase at 16:53 as he stuffed in a shorthanded effort.

Sault Ste. Marie answered that early in the second stanza on a nice rush that allowed Noah Boman to bury his sixth of the year before the period was two minutes old.

The Thunderbirds then went in front at 8:25 as Lucas Theriault was set-up in the slot where he made no mistake by snapping a quick shot over the glove of Cochrane goalkeeper Shayne Battler.

Countering, the Crunch tied it at 12:08 on an Owen Peralla effort then regained the lead before the period was complete as Tristan Taillefer notched his first league marker with 38 seconds remaining in the session.

Action in this back and forth affair saw the Soo pull even near the three-minute mark of the third on an impressive effort supplied by Tyler Malpass who picked up his fifth on the season.

Continuing to compete at a high-energy clip throughout the remainder of regulation, it stayed scoreless to send the match-up to overtime.

Cochrane had a tremendous opportunity to end it in the extra session with a lengthy two-man advantage, however Soo goaltender Colin Ahern was equal to the task in thwarting the Crunch the entire way.

Heading to extra shots, both Ahern and Battler kept it tight with the lone goal coming when Theriault darted in and made a couple of quick dekes before firing an attempt that a diving Cochrane keeper got a piece of, but not enough, as the puck found out its way across the goal line.

Needing to convert on their last chance, Ahern’s right pad stymied Austin Whelan to give the Thunderbirds win.

Jonathan Mackin dished out two assists for the Soo in the triumph.

Ahern finished with 31 stops to help his team improve to 10-1-0-0 on the season while Battler made 29 saves to help the Crunch earn a point as they went to 5-6-0-1.

Photos by Chris Dawson