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GALLERY: Smith supplies hat trick as Thunderbirds hold off Crunch

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Veteran Soo Thunderbirds forward Nick Smith scored three times, including twice while his side was shorthanded, in an eventual 4-3 decision over the Cochrane Crunch Friday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up that was held at the Soo Peewee Arena.

First period play saw Sault Ste. Marie hold the edge in shots by a 12-10 margin, but it was Cochrane that collected the lone marker in the session thanks to Jacob Seyers’ second of the campaign, which came 13 and a half minutes in.

Down a man in the second, the Thunderbirds drew level with Tyler Dunbar setting up Smith to knot the affair at 1-1.

Smith then supplied another shorthanded effort a couple shifts later to put the Soo on top.

A late power play helped the hosts tack on another that saw Jacob Kovacs collect his eighth overall as they took a two-goal cushion into the third.

In that final frame, the Smith show continued as he finished off his third career NOJHL hat trick on the opening shift of the third.

Drawing closer, Cochrane’s Nicholas Grandy brought the guests to within two with over 14 minutes remaining in regulation.

Grandy then connected once more, during a man advantage opportunity, with 2:23 to go, but the Soo held firm from there to hold off the Crunch comeback bid.

Shots on goal in the contest favoured Cochrane by a 37-34 margin with Dakota Meyer picking up the win while Cody Levesque suffered the setback.

Meyer has now won his past three starts for his side.

Game Photos courtesy of Bob Davies