SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Soo Thunderbirds defenceman Connor Toms scored once and added an assist in helping his club defeat the Blind River Beavers 5-3 Tuesday evening in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Picking off a pass in Blind River territory, Sault Ste. Marie open the scoring 15 minutes into the match-up as Michael Chaffay snagged the clearing attempt and fired a shot from the slot that Beavers’ netminder Gavin Disano could only get a piece of as the puck trickled across the goal line to put the hosts in front.
A late man advantage helped the visitors draw level before the first period was complete however as Justin Mauro made a nice move at the blueline and got it over to Thomas Michaud, who moved to the middle of the ice where a quick deke allowed him to slide in a back hand on Scott Young in the Soo net.
Moving to the middle stanza, the Thunderbirds struck shorthanded at 13:40 to regain the lead.
The play saw the Soo break out of their own zone in numbers and eventually saw Toms and Caleb Wood dart in alone on a two-man break where they finished off a give-and-go to perfection with Toms burying the go-ahead marker from the right side.
Then after killing off the rest of the penalty, the hosts tacked on another off a faceoff win that saw Toms lift an attempt towards the goal through a maze in front that was deflected by Andrew Malek parked in front to give them a 3-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Battling back early in the third, Blind River capitalized on a two-man power play that was finished off by Jacob Kelly as he skated in from the left side and fired one into the top right hand corner of the net.
Building on the momentum, it was more from the Beavers at 4:55 as Matt Cato scooped up a rebound off a Mason Chitaroni shot from inside the blueline then circled and spun before whipping in the equalizer from the right faceoff dot.
Another nice play came on the game-winner as a hard-charging Russell Oldham put a back pass to Ethan Novello, who in turn fired a quick feed across to Kurtis Rogers who banged in his first of the campaign into the open side to put the home side back in front for good.
The Soo then tacked on some insurance while down a skater as a Cooper Smyl chip up with his skate sent Noah Boman in on a partial break where Disano stymied him from in close, but Smyl darted in and buried the loose puck from the top of the crease to wrap things up offensively.
The Beavers did hold a 43-37 edge in shots on the night that saw Young collect the victory while Disano suffered the setback.
The clubs are now slated to meet Saturday and Sunday afternoon in a pair of 2 p.m. starts from the Blind River Community Centre.
Those games can be viewed online at HockeyTV.com.
Game Photos: Bob Davies