NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013
2013-14 Team Previews: Blind River Beavers
SUDBURY – The Blind River Beavers head into a weekend home-and-home series vs. Elliot Lake to begin their portion of regular season play in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League with plenty of optimism.
The reason for their tempered enthusiasm is partly due to the fact of their performance at last weekend’s Cottage Cup NOJHL preseason tourney where the squad advanced all the way to the championship game.
In that four-team event host by the Bobcats in Elliot Lake, Blind River impressed finishing with a 3-2 overall record with their only defeats coming at the hands of the eventual Cottage Cup winners, the Soo Thunderbirds. That included a narrow 1-0 setback in round robin play and 7-3 loss in the final that saw them take to the ice just an hour or so after getting past North Bay 6-4 in semifinal action.
A pair of returning forwards in Tyson MacLeod and Samuel Wilbur paced the Beavers offensively in the tournament recording seven and six points respectively in the five games they played. That included five goals by MacLeod and a trio from Wilbur.
MacLeod is coming off a year where he ended up fourth in team scoring for his hometown side as the Blind River product found the back of the net 22 times while setting up 16 others. He also recently represented the NOJHL at the Ontario Summer Select Showcase tournament last month.
“Tyson is a forward who brings a strong offensive presence on the ice while also creating space for his line-mates,” surmised Warren LaVoy the first-year general manager of Beavers. “He has a hard shot that often finds the back of the net and I look forward to watching this player excel to a new level.”
As for Wilbur, who is entering his final year of Jr. A hockey, LaVoy too looks for the Saginaw, Mich., native to build off a solid effort last season where he led the club in offensive production and finished fifth overall in league scoring with 55 points on 21 goals and 34 helpers.
“Sam is a powerful centre who is strong on the puck,” dished the Blind River GM. “He not only makes plays happen, he is very adept to scoring. Sam also brings great qualities as a leader on and off the ice and is certainly focussed and poised to excel to the next level.”
Among the other veterans suiting up for the Beavers is defenceman Scott Marshall, who helps anchor the defence for his hometown team.
“He brings a high-tempo game to the ice along with plenty of skill that provides an offensive quality that poses a threat against any team,” said LaVoy when describing the D-man.
In 2012-13 the 1994-born Marshall picked up 26 points on nine goals and 17 assists, which led all defenceman on the club.
A foursome of newcomers also made their mark on the score sheet at the Cottage Cup with Dallas Miller, Ryan Logan, Sean Gruenhagen and Connor Cassavia all picking up four points apiece, highlighted by Miller’s four tallies.
As for Logan, he joined the team after skating for the Whitby Fury (OJHL) in 2012-13 and brings additional experience to the club’s blue line.
Another new face to the Blind River line-up is ’94 D-man Vinny Barra.
He hails from Buffalo Grove, Ill., and is sure to be noticed on the ice due to his six-foot-four-inch frame.
He suited up for the Rochester Ice Hawks in the Minnesota Jr. loop last season with the stay-at-home rearguard registering nine points while accumulating 59 penalty minutes.
Looking to make a statement to be the club’s No. 1 goaltender, Matt Young had a 2-0 record along with a 2.92 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage.
Despite not picking up a victory, rookie Braeden Turco was stellar in just over 90 minutes of work supplying a stingy 0.66 GAA and a more than impressive.984 save mark.
The third stopper to see playing time was Dylan Knox who went 1-0 saving 67 of the 73 shots he faced.
With LaVoy, despite being in his first year as GM, he is no stranger to the NOJHL having served in coaching capacities with both Blind River and Sault Ste. Marie previously.
He’ll work hand-in-hand with Blind River head coach Doug McEwen.
McEwen returns for a second season to guide the club’s fortunes following a very successful 22-year playing career in the United Kingdom, mainly with the Cardiff Devils in Wales.
After Friday’s season opener on the road in Elliot Lake the Beavers return home to face the same Bobcats Saturday at the Blind River Community Centre at 7:30 p.m. before hosting the North Bay Trappers in a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee.