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NOJHL West Division Final preview: Blind River Beavers vs. Soo Eagles

NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE

NOJHL NETWORK MEDIA UPDATE

Release Date: Friday, March 31, 2017

NOJHL West Division Final preview: Blind River Beavers vs. Soo Eagles

SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s West Division Final between the Blind River Beavers and Soo Eagles gets underway tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Blind River Community Centre.

Here’s a look at this best-of-seven series:

HOW THEY ARRIVED: Blind River earned their way into the division final after prevailing over the Rayside-Balfour Canadians in a hard-fought seven-game series that went the distance before the Beavers took the finale by a narrow 1-0 score.

As for the Eagles, they first began by getting past the Elliot Lake Wildcats in a best-of-three quarter-final that Sault Ste. Marie take it in a third and deciding contest.

They then went on to upset the two-time defending NOJHL champion Soo Eagles in four straight to claim that West semifinal series.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Beavers and Eagles met a total of nine times during the course of the regular season with Blind River taking the season set by a close 5-4 margin.

Four of those contests were decided by just one goal, including one in overtime, while another three saw the final margin being just two tallies.

POINT PRODUCERS: Yianni Liarakos paced the Beavers in offensive production in match-ups with the Eagles as he picked up 11 points on three goals and eight assists.

The trio of Zak Lambrecht, Caleb Serre and Max Khull were next with nine apiece.

Leading the Eagles was Jake Saxton as he collected 11 points in games with Blind River by scoring three times and helping set-up eight more.

Chris Murphy, Jacob Palmerio and Bradley Hofelich were after Saxton as the three forwards collected nine each.

Liarakos, who led the entire 132-team Canadian Junior Hockey League in game-winning goals with 11, had one of them vs. the Eagles. He also assisted on two other difference makers for the Beavers.

He also leads his team in playoff scoring with 13 points, including a half dozen tallies.

Saxton and defenceman Nick Trecroce share top spot in Soo postseason numbers as the duo have both supplied eight points.

THE TENDERS: Myles Hektor posted a 3-3 record for Blind River in games against the Soo while Aidan Doak was 2-0.

Kade Phipps, who leads all playoff netminders in wins with six, had a 2-4 mark vs. the Beavers in the regular season.

Jack Deines meanwhile was 1-1 for the Eagles and Justyn Gillis was 1-0.

In the playoffs, Hektor is 2-1 while Doak has gone 2-2.

Phipps only loss so far in the postseason in seven appearances was in overtime vs. Elliot Lake in Game 2 of that series.

He has now won five straight starts for the surging Eagles.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Eagles were 10 for 51 on the power play vs. the Beavers this season with Blind River going 3 for 47 against the Soo.

The Beavers currently lead the league in playoff power play success, clicking at an impressive 40% rate with 12 goals in 30 chances.

The Soo is fourth in this category at 20% having scored eight times in 40 opportunities.

While shorthanded the Eagles are third overall at 88.2% with Blind River eighth at 71.4%.

WHAT’S NEXT: The winner of this series will take on either the Powassan Voodoos or Timmins Rock in the NOJHL Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy final.

THE SCHEDULE

West Division Final
No. 2 Blind River Beavers vs. No. 4 Soo Eagles
Best-of-seven series
Game 1: Friday, March 31 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 2: Sunday, April 2 @ Blind River 6:30 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 3: Wednesday, April 5 @ Soo Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 4: Friday, April 7 @ Soo Eagles 7:30 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 5*: Saturday, April 8 @ Blind River (Community Centre)
Game 6*: Monday, April 10 @ Soo Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 7*: Wednesday, April 12 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
*-if necessary

All NOJHL playoff games are streamed online at HockeyTV.com.

With files from NOJHL Statistician & Historian David Harrison