COCHRANE, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds rode the 42-save performance of rookie goaltender Eric Schuch to backstop his side to a narrow 3-2 victory over the Cochrance Crunch Saturday in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play at Tim Horton Event Centre.
Schuch was stellar in his NOJHL debut to post his initial win for Sault Ste. Marie including making 33 stops alone in the final two periods.
A first frame power play allowed the Thunderbirds to get on the board 13 minutes into the opening frame as Brendan Miller beat Cochrane starter Taylor Unruh.
A man advantage of their own allowed the Crunch to level the proceedings 4:29 into the middle stanza when Austin Stauffer finished off a Darian Harris power play feed.
However Alex Acosta got that back for the visitors later in the session as he notched his initial league marker before the session was complete.
Cochrane pressed to get back in it in the third and did connect with 57 seconds remaining in regulation when Kyle Podwicka secured his first as a member of the Crunch.
The T-Birds tightened up from there and went on to pick up the win and improve to 1-1 early in the campaign.
The victory was the first in the NOJHL for new Thunderbirds head coach John Parco.
Unruh saw 25 shots fired his way in defeat for Cochrane who dropped their home opener.