His timing was perfect.
Kurtis Rogers picked the ideal moment for his first goal of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League season.
The Soo Thunderbirds centre scored a power-play marker at 12:27 of the final period on Tuesday, breaking a 3-3 tie and sparking his team to a 5-3 win over the Blind River Beavers at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Cooper Smyl added a short-handed goal 1:36 later and Scott Young provided strong netminding as the Soo won its fifth straight, improving to 8-3-1 (wins, losses, overtime losses).
“It felt amazing. It made for a huge momentum shift,” said Rogers, a 19-year-old (2001 birth year), who scored 11 times in 54 games a season ago.
“That goal was huge,” added Soo defenceman Connor Toms, who led his club with a goal and an assist. “It was a big turning point in the game.”
The Beavers scored twice in the first five minutes of the third period to erase what had been a 3-1 T-Birds lead.
Rogers, who centres an energy line with wingers Russell Oldham and Evan Novello, led his linemates onto the ice for their first power-play shift of the night.
Russell carried the puck into the Blind River zone, beat a defenceman wide and fed Novello, who was stationed by the post, at the goal-line.
“He passed it to me in the slot and I one-timed it,” explained Rogers, who beat Beavers netminder Gavin Disano, a Sault native, with a snapshot to the blocker side.
Former Beaver Andrew Malek, with his first goal in a T-Birds uniform, and Michael Chaffay had the other goals for the winners, who travel to Blind River for a pair of games this weekend.
Clashes at Blind River Community Centre are slated for 2 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
Sault natives Mason Chitaroni and Justin Mauro had assists in a losing effort on Tuesday as the Beavers fell to 5-6-1.
“We played a really-good game,” said Toms (4-10-14), who is tied with Smyl (10-4-14) for the Thunderbirds team scoring lead. “It’s a good feeling. We just have to keep it going.”
Toms also credited Young, on a night when the Beavers held a 43-37 edge in shots.
“He played amazing,” Toms said of the Soo netminder.
Young “kept us in when we needed it,” added Rogers. “He made a couple of big saves in the last two minutes.”