Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A Youssef Chaouachi tally in the fifth round of the shootout held up as the difference maker Wednesday evening as the Soo Thunderbirds pulled out a narrow 2-1 decision over the Blind River Beavers in a hard-fought Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division match-up at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Blind River came out strong and collected the night’s opening goal, just a half minute into the proceedings, as Nicholas Brady sent a wrist shot from the left point that sailed through a swarm of skaters in front and beat Sault Ste. Marie starter Landon Miller.
Countering with an equalizer, 2:56 into the second stanza, the Thunderbirds’ Ethan Novello darted around the Beavers’ net and skated into the left circle where he spun and caught goaltender Charlie Burns off guard and beat him with a short side attempt between the post and the netminder’s pad.
Like the first frame, the early tally would be to only scoring in the session as the two teams reached the intermission knotted at 1-1.
In the third, the period, as well as the five-minute overtime remained tight-checking with neither side converting offensively, which sent the well-played affair to extra shots to determine the final result.
After Blind River’s Evan Fraccaro and the Soo’s Brodie McConnell-Barker exchanged markers, additional attempts were eventually required.
Following a miss apiece, Chaouachi came in for the Thunderbirds and went left before moving back to mid-ice where he made a couple of nifty dekes while cutting right and lifting in a rising backhand over a sprawled Burns.
Needing to convert, to keep the contest on the go, a Beavers’ skater fanned on his club’s fifth chance to give the hosts the victory.
With the triumph, the Soo won for a fourth straight game, improving to 8-6-0-1 on the year.
Blind River did earn a point in defeat as their overall record dipped to 10-3-0-2.