GALLERY: Chitaroni OT hero as Thunderbirds slip past Beavers

Photos: Helene Rancourt

BLIND RIVER, Ont. – A Mason Chitaroni marker just over three minutes into overtime lifted the Soo Thunderbirds to their 15th consecutive Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League victory Sunday afternoon, a 4-3 decision over a resilient Blind River Beavers side, at the Blind River Recreation Centre.

Sault Ste. Marie converted on the initial man advantage opportunity of the contest when Russell Oldham potted his sixth of the season as he knocked in a rebound while parked in front of Blind River starter Patrick Boivin.

Adding another prior to the first intermission, the Thunderbirds’ Cooper Foster banged in his 18th of 2021-22 off a Brock Santa Maria blast from the high slot at 16:04.

In the middle session, the Soo went up by three as Kyle Trottier put one on net from the left side, then cut around a defender while powering his way to the front where he collected the rebound and lifted it over the pad of Boivin to extend the lead.

Storming back in the third, the Beavers struck three times in under a six-minute span to knot the affair at 3-3 to force extra time.

Meguire Naughton got Blind River going at 7:46 of the frame when deflected an Ethan Pegg point shot past Thunderbirds’ netminder Noah Zeppa.

Coming back a couple of shifts later, it was ruled that James Ingram had scored on a short side effort up high from the right of the net.

Notching the equalizer 13:03, Pegg put a soft dump in off the end boards that took a perfect bounce right in front of the net where Kyle Caron was waiting to snap in the equalizer over Zeppa’s blocker.

Heading to extra time, Chitaroni won it on a delayed penalty where he was taken down, but regained his footing while skating around the net and put a play in front that clipped off a Beavers’ defender and skipped into the back of the net to help Soo keep their lengthy winning streak in tact.

With the outcome, Zeppa won his ninth straight start while seeing his side improve to 36-5-2-3 on the season.

In defeat, Blind River gained a point, but fell to 23-15-6-0 overall.