Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – A three-goal, second-period outburst by the Soo Thunderbirds sent them on their way to a 4-1 victory over the Blind River Beavers Monday evening in Game 4 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at the Blind River Community Centre.
With the outcome, Sault Ste. Marie takes the best-of-seven series 4-0 and moves on to the divisional final against either the Soo Eagles or Greater Sudbury Cubs.
The Thunderbirds needed less than four minutes to take flight in Monday’s match-up as Michael Chaffay notched his third of the series when he took a Kyle Trottier feed on the right wing then made a quick move before snapping one upstairs on Beavers’ netminder Jeremi Delaquis.
Pressing hard for an equalizer late in the first, Evan Fraccaro converted from the left of Thunderbirds’ goalkeeper Noah Metivier, during a man advantage opportunity at 19:06.
The goal given up by Metivier was the first one allowed by him in his last 282 minutes and 26 seconds of game action, which dates back to the regular season, and featured four shutouts, in as many starts for him.
Up a skater to begin the middle session, Sault Ste. Marie used some crafty puck movement to regain the lead thanks to a nice deflection by Dharan Cap who was conveniently parked at the top of the crease at 1:20.
A costly turnover by Delaquis behind the net helped the Thunderbirds make it 3-1 with Russell Oldham converting into the open side, while on the power play, at 12:04.
Feeding off that, the Soo tacked on another 49 seconds later on an even strength effort courtesy of Kenny Belanger Jr., who was left alone in front and had time to chip in his club’s fourth goal on the night.
Taking their three-goal cushion into the final frame, the Thunderbirds held firm throughout the last session to skate away with the series sweep.
NOJHL West Division semifinal
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Blind River Beavers
Soo wins best-of-seven series 4-0
Game 1: Thunderbirds 3 Beavers 2
Game 2: Thunderbirds 3 Beavers 0
Game 3: Thunderbirds 4 Beavers 2
Game 4: Thunderbirds 4 Beavers 1