BLIND RIVER, Ont. – Buoyed by some strong play from the veteran players in their line-up, the Blind River Beavers went on to defeat the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-2 Friday evening in Game 1 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division quarter-final series at the Blind River Community Centre.
Boasting a combined 381 games of NOJHL experience, forwards Caleb Serre and Riley Nadeau had three points apiece in the triumph for the Beavers while their starting netminder, Garret Boyonoski, carried a shutout into the final three minutes of regulation before the Wildcats power play went to work and notched a pair of late extra man markers.
Blind River notched the first goal of the postseason seven and a half minutes into the contest as Ryan Peck finished off the work of Nadeau and Dante Cavaliere.
The Beavers carried a power play into the middle session, and capitalized 34 seconds in on a Matthew Murray effort to put the home side up by a pair.
It stayed 2-0 for the home side into the final frame where Blind River used special teams once again to help put the game away and secure the Game 1 triumph.
Up a skater early, Serre added his first of the night at 2:52 then came back with another power play effort a few minutes later to extend the Beavers cushion to four.
Jack McLeod then put the hosts up by five at 14:49 before the Wildcats dashed Boyonoski’s shutout big during a late two-man advantage as Mark Perone buried a Brett Lannin set-up a couple of shifts later.
Then still on the power play, Elliot Lake’s Eric Conley rounded out the scoring with 21 seconds to go with help from Perone and Noah Minns.
Peck also had a three-point effort in his NOJHL postseason debut for the winners while Boyonoski finished with 30 stops in earning the opening night decision.
Elliot Lake starter Dominic Boily faced 41 shots in defeat.
Game 2 goes Sunday at 2 p.m. back in Blind River.
West Division quarter-final
No. 4 Blind River Beavers vs. No. 5 Elliot Lake Wildcats
Blind River leads best-of-three series 1-0
Game 1: Blind River 5 Elliot Lake 2
Game 2#: Sunday, March 10 @ Blind River 2 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 3*: Monday, March 11 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
#-Elliot Lake home team
Game Photos courtesy of Crystal Serré