Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – The surging Blind River Beavers continued their solid start to the season Saturday as the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League front-runners defeated the Espanola Paper Kings 6-2 at the Blind River Community Centre.
A favourable bounce benefitted the Beavers early in the contest as an attempt from the left point hit the skate of a Paper Kings’ defenceman and went right to Thomas Dimoulas in the slot where he quickly whipped in his second goal of the season, nearly three minutes into the proceedings.
While Blind River carried most of the play in the first period, Espanola did capitalize on a chance late in the session after Aiden Pethick lifted a shot up high from the left side that got through a partially screened Gavin Disano in the Beavers’ net for his initial NOJHL goal.
Moving to the middle session, the home side regained the lead at 3:31 as a long feed up-ice bounced off the end boards and found Nicholas Moore, who made a quick spin-move at the top of the crease and slid in a backhand past the outstretched pad of Paper Kings’ netminder Andrew Gaulton.
Special teams helped Blind River go up by a pair midway through the proceedings as they forced a turnover while shorthanded, which allowed them to break in and saw Kaeden McArthur send a perfect cross-ice feed over to Gavin Rocha, who promptly connected from close range, just as their penalty was expiring.
On an extended man advantage to commence the third, the hosts capitalized when Joshua Thompson appeared to get a piece of an Owen Arnold point attempt that saw the puck skip off the boards and bounce back in front where it hit off the pad of Gaulton and trickle across the goal line.
Building on that, Noah Aboflan helped put the game out of reach on the counter attack as his knuckling shot from just over the Espanola blueline sailed high, blocker side, at 6:36.
Some solid cycle work and a strong forecheck helped the visitors get one closer with nine minutes to go when Spencer Horgan whistled one over Disano from the right circle.
Sealing the triumph in the late going, Caleb Minns won a race down the ice towards an empty net and slid in a low backhand in the final minute to round things out offensively for Blind River.
The victory for Disano was his NOJHL-best fifth of the season as the Beavers improved to 4-0-0-0 on home ice and 7-1-0-0 overall.
In defeat, the Paper Kings slipped to 5-2-1-0.