Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – An Andrey Manov man advantage marker, 1:35 into overtime, lifted the Blind River Beavers to a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds Wednesday evening in Game 4 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at John Rhodes Community Centre.
With the triumph, the Beavers picked up their initial triumph of the series and now trail the best-of-seven set 3-1 and have forced a Game 5 Friday on home ice at 7 p.m., and on HockeyTV.com.
Needing a win to extend their campaign, Blind River took the lead nearly 11 minutes into the match-up when Michael Gallagher cranked a shot from left side boards near the blueline that got past a partial screen and beat Sault Ste. Marie starter Landon Miller.
Collecting an early equalizer in second stanza, the Thunderbirds tied it when Justin Mauro fired an attempt towards the target that was knocked in past netminder Charlie Burns by Dharan Cap, who was situated in front of the net.
Going back in front late in the frame, the Beavers’ Evan Fraccaro took a cross-ice feed from Manov and snapped a chance that went through and maze and leaked through Miller.
Answering with another quick marker in the third, the Soo tied it when Wyatt Marlow darted down the left wing and while going towards the corner sent a shot from a sharp angle that managed to find its way in at 1:53.
Staying level through 60 minutes, the two teams went to the dressing rooms to rest up prior to OT.
On a man advantage to begin the extra session, the visitors capitalized as Manov slammed in the game-winner into the open side after a Fraccaro blast went wide, but came directly out on the other side where the waiting Blind River defenceman ended it.
NOJHL West Division semifinal
Blind River Beavers vs. Soo Thunderbirds
Game 1: Thunderbirds 6 Beavers 3
Game 2: Thunderbirds 5 Beavers 4
Game 3: Thunderbirds 4 Beavers 1
Game 4: Beavers 3 Thunderbirds 2 (OT)
Game 5: Friday, March 31 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 6*: Saturday, April 1 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 4 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Soo leads best–of–seven series 3-1
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel