Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – The Blind River Beavers got a pair of goals, including the game-winner, and an assist from Michael Gallagher to help them out last the Elliot Lake Vikings 5-4 in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Thursday night at the Blind River Community Centre.
It was the visiting Vikings who notched the opening tally of the season, nearly eight minutes into the contest, when Noah Aboflan powered his way down the right wing on an odd-man rush and proceeded to blast a shot through Blind River starter Noah Tegelaar.
Answering back a couple of shifts later, the Beavers drew level when Wyatt Gibson’s pass allowed Nathanel Pretez to split the Elliot Lake defence and go in and snap his first NOJHL goal over the outstretched pad on netminder Sam Keene midway through the first period.
Coming right back, the home side tacked on another at 10:35 as Gallagher was left alone in front to control a loose puck and slide it into the open side to put the hosts up 2-1.
The Blind River power play then went to work to put them up by two with Josh Thompson finishing off a rebound from a Gallagher attempt from inside the right circle.
Adding a fifth marker in the session, Elliot Lake pulled to within one prior to the first intermission on Gavin McLenaghan’s first as he banged in a rebound off a Blake Menard shot that was initially stopped by Tegelaar.
Moving to the middle stanza, special teams helped the Vikings tie it at 13:45, thanks to McLenahgan’s second goal of the night as he neatly guided in a smart cross-ice pass from Aboflan.
Remaining knotted at 3-3 into the third, the back and forth affair saw the Beavers retake the lead when Tyler Vorstadt put one in front that was briefly kept out, but a persistent Evan Fraccaro knocked in the go-ahead marker from in close on Keene.
The Beavers power play then added some insurance thanks to Gallagher who hesitated briefly in the right circle prior to firing through the legs of Keene.
Drawing closer once more, Elliot Lake’s Nathan Marincola scooped up a loose puck behind the goal line and pulled it in front where he lifted a rising backhand over the shoulder of Tegelaar with 7:55 remaining.
The visitors then got their goalkeeper out for an extra skater in the late going in an effort to force overtime, but they could not get any closer before time expired as Blind River held on for the opening night victory.