Thunder top Bluebirds to force Game 7

The Bluebirds’ Travis Winkworth is upended while cutting to the net, on March 31, 2023, n a 4-3 loss to the Tillsonburg Thunder. (Photo courtesy of Wyatt Williams)

By Wyatt Williams

The Tilbury Bluebirds have been forced into Game 7 after back-to-back losses to the Tillsonburg Thunder in semi-final playoff action over the weekend.

Friday night at home for Game 5, the Bluebirds fell 4-3 to the Thunder.

Todd Ratchford scored just a couple minutes shy of the midway point of the first period to give Tillsonburg a 1-0 lead. However, Vyacheslav Chegrintsev and Stephane Crevier scored a quick pair in the last two minutes of the period to give the Bluebirds a 2-1 lead.

Jake Brown of the Thunder scored the only goal of the second to tie things at 2-2. In the third, Brown notched his second of the game, followed by Matt Weston to give Tillsonburg a 4-2 lead.

The Bluebirds’ Mike MacIntyre would score on the powerplay to cut the lead to 4-3, with eight minutes left, but they could not get a tying goal.

Tilbury outshot the Thunder 48-45 with Ryan Polidori between the pipes. Jesse Raymond was the goaltender for Tillsonburg.

On Sunday in Tillsonburg, the Thunder led 2-1 after one with goals from Mitch Fitzmorris, and Kurtis Christo. Nick Tetreault scored for the Bluebirds.

In the second period, Brown scored his first of the game at 17:38 to put Tillsonburg up 3-1. The Bluebirds then answered with a pair of goals by Chegrintsev and Jeff Burridge to tie things up a 3-3. With five minutes remaining and on the penalty kill, Mitch Brown would score for the Thunder to put his team up 4-3.

In the third, Mike Rebry would score on a penalty shot for the Thunder at 17:46 to go up 5-3. The Bluebirds would come back with a pair of powerplay goals by Austin Jennings and Mike MacIntyre to force overtime.

At 12:22 into the OT period, Jake Brown of the Thunder scored his second goal of the game for the win.

Ryan Polidori was in the net for the loss, facing 33 shots and Jesse Raymond got the win for Tillsonburg, facing 43 shots.

As an expansion team in the Western Ontario Super Hockey league, the Bluebirds have had their share of firsts; first practice, first home game, first win, first road game and first loss. But none of these are as important as the team’s first Game 7 in a semi-final playoff series.

On Tuesday, April 4 at 8 p.m., the Bluebirds will play their first-ever Game 7 against the Thunder. The winner of the game will advance to the Championship Final.

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