Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – A Youssef Chaouachi goal five minutes into the second period held up as the game-winner as the Soo Thunderbirds went on to defeat the Blind River Beavers 4-1 Saturday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up at the Blind River Community Centre.
Striking first, Sault Ste. Marie connected near the 16-minute mark of the opening frame when Kaden Dundas sent a rising shot from the top of the right circle that sailed past a screened Charlie Burns in the Blind River net.
Extending their lead five minutes into the middle stanza, the Thunderbirds’ Kolby Fellinger snagged a clearing attempt and began a rapid three-way passing play that was buried from the slot by Chaouachi, with additional help from Jackson Truchan.
The assist for Truchan helped give him points in each of his past 11 games played.
Appearing to get one back while shorthanded, a knuckling Blind River dump-in from outside the blueline fooled Kolton Bourret and went in, but the play was correctly ruled offside by the officials, thus the attempt did not count.
Going up by three in the final minute of middle session, Truchan banked one in after darting out from behind the net and lifting a shot towards the goal that found its way by Burns.
Moving to the third period, the Beavers got on the board at 5:12, thanks to Michael Gallagher finishing off a cross-ice pass from Jack Robinson as he slid his chance under Bourret from between the hash marks.
However, the visitors capped off the road win with an empty netter courtesy of Justin Mauro with just over a minute remaining to round out the night’s scoring.
On a roll, Bourret won his seventh straight start in helping the Thunderbirds improve to 21-9-2-1 on the season.
The result, on a night where veteran T-Birds forward Michael Chaffay played his 100th NOJHL game, also sees the Soo move to within one point of the Beavers in the league’s West Division standings, as Blind River fell to 21-8-2-2 with the loss.