Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – A thrilling overtime tally by Jacob Kovacs with 33 seconds remaining in the extra session was the difference as the Blind River Beavers pulled out a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds Tuesday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division meeting at the Blind River Community Centre.
In what’s shaping up to be an upcoming first round playoff match-up, the two sides provided a highly-entertaining affair throughout.
The lone marker in the first period came in the late going as Sault Ste. Marie’s Justin Mauro skated into the Blind River zone and sent a knuckling attempt by a Beavers’ defender that dipped under the glove of netminder Charlie Burns at 19:50.
Pressing the pace early in the second stanza, the home side drew level after some end-to-end action where a head-long pass from deep in his own zone by Nicholas Brady sent Joshua Thompson skating down the right wing where he wired a shot past Thunderbirds’ netminder Landon Miller.
Coming back to retake the lead, while on a man advantage, the Soo worked the play around and eventually saw Youssef Chaouachi spin behind the goal line and fire a feed out to a pinching Kaden Dundas moving in from the point, who quickly whipped a shot into the top left hand corner for his eighth of the campaign.
The T-Birds had a solid chance to extend their cushion right off the draw to begin the third, but Chaouachi was stymied by Burns’ outstretched pad and the post.
Answering with another equalizer, Blind River’s Michael Gallagher began the play on a dump in that Miller lost control off of behind the net that resulted in a play being put in front where the Beavers’ forward moved in and had a couple of attempts at it before stuffing in the tying tally at 11:05.
Heading deep into extra time, Kovacs won it as he sped out of his own zone and while flying down the right side, drove hard to the net around a Soo skater before lifting in the game-winner.
The result sees Blind River win their sixth straight game and improve to 31-10-2-2.
With a point in defeat, the T-Birds now sit at 29-11-3-2 overall.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel