SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Colin Handy’s first Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League goal, coming 11 and a half minutes into the second period, held up as his initial game-winner as well as the Soo Eagles skated to a narrow 2-1 decision over the visiting Blind River Beavers Tuesday evening at Pullar Stadium.
Netting the night’s opening tally, Sault Ste. Marie converted off a face off win deep in Blind River territory as they got it back to Trevor Davis at the left point where he sent a shot through a maze of bodies in front and past Beavers’ goalkeeper Gavin Disano at the 17-minute mark of the first period.
Heading to the second stanza, the Eagles went up by a pair at 11:30 as defenceman Handy picked off a Blind River pass at his own blueline then skated up the right wing before firing a shot from circle that eluded Disano for that initial NOJHL tally.
Starting a play just inside his own zone, Jacob Kovacs muscled the puck out of his zone and past a pair of Soo defenders before proceeding to speed down the left wing, and used a quick give-and-go with teammate Sam McCue, before lifting an attempt over the glove of Eagles’ goalkeeper Gabe Rosek with still over 15 minutes remaining in regulation.
Blind River eventually got Disano out for an extra attacker with plenty of time still left on the clock in an attempt to level the proceedings while trying to force overtime.
However, Rosek was there with a couple of key saves when called upon and that, along some staunch defensive play, including a big shot block in the waning moments, aided in securing the home ice victory.
With the result, the Eagles secured home ice advantage in their opening playoff series, which will be versus either the same Beavers or the Greater Sudbury Cubs.
The same two teams are back at it again Wednesday in another 7 p.m. start at Pullar Stadium and on HockeyTV.com.