Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – Evan Fraccaro provided the lone tally in the shootout as the Blind River Beavers rallied for a 5-4 come from behind victory over the Soo Thunderbirds Sunday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League matinee at the Blind River Community Centre.
It took the visiting Thunderbirds less than three minutes to open the scoring on the day as defenceman Cree Solomon picked up the puck at his own blueline and proceeded to skate into Blind River territory where we fired one past Beavers’ starter Gavin Disano for his first NOJHL goal.
Another Sault Ste. Marie rookie, Kelsey Ouellet, made it 2-0 a couple of shifts later as he came down the left wing, cut around a defender, before snapping a shot that beat Disano from the faceoff dot.
After that, the hosts opted to remove Disano for back-up Jeremi Delaquis.
The move sparked Blind River as they came right back and made it a 2-1 game just 45 seconds later thanks to Jesse Dupuis knocking one in from close range during a goal-mouth scramble.
Heading to the middle session though, the Soo regained their two-goal cushion 1:41 in as Michael Chaffay jammed in a chance from close range to finish off a play made by Tyson Doucette during a man advantage opportunity.
It was more from Solomon in the middle session as he knocked down a clearing attempt just inside the Blind River zone, made a couple of slick moves, before letting a low shot go through a partial screen to put the Soo up 4-1.
Up a skater before the period came to a close, the Beavers pulled back to within a pair when Ethan Pegg fired a shot from the slot, off the blocker of Thunderbirds’ goalkeeper Noah Zeppa, but the rebound went right to Mequire Naughton, who stuffed in the loose disk at 16:27.
In the final frame, Blind River rallied with a couple more strikes, the initial one coming off the stick of Caleb Minns who zipped one in from the left side off a rebound from a Pegg right point attempt.
They then drew level shortly afterwards as Trevor Zimmer got his first in league play as he neatly deflected a Dupuis attempt with 6:19 to go.
After a free-flowing five-minute overtime could not produce a winner.
In the shootout, Fraccaro was the only skater to convert as skated down the middle of the ice and snapped a shot through the legs of Zeppa.
Following one final save by Delaquis, the comeback was complete as the home side prevailed with the extra point on the day.
Delaquis finished with 27 stops in relief, plus all three attempts he faced in extra shots, to pick up the win while Zeppa turned aside 40 of 44 in 65 minutes of work, as well as one of two in the shootout.