BLIND RIVER, Ont. – A Nathan Engel marker with 13 seconds remaining in the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Blind River Beavers went on to edge the Soo Thunderbirds 3-2 Tuesday evening in Game 3 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at the Blind River Community Centre.
With the outcome, the Beavers get their first win in the best-of-seven match-up to now trail 2-1 heading into Game 4 Friday back in Blind River at 7p.m.
The opening frame stayed scoreless until late in the period when Blind River’s Ryan Peck picked up his team-leading fifth tally of the playoffs with 30 seconds remaining to put the home side up by one.
Action in the middle stanza saw the Beavers extend their lead at 11:48 on Andrew Warhoftig’s initial NOJHL playoff marker.
Sault Ste. Marie did get on the board just over a minute later as Noah Boman fed Lucas Theriault to cut into the deficit.
However, Blind River answered back in the final moments of the session compliments of Engel who potted the difference maker late.
The Thunderbirds came out quickly to commence the third with Spencer Van Tiem striking 15 seconds in to pull the guests back to within one.
From there though Beavers pressed the pace, outshooting the Soo 13-4 in the period, to secure the home ice victory.
Blind River netminder Jackson Hjelle finishing with 20 saves to record the win.
Colin Ahern of the Soo faced 29 attempts in defeat between the pipes for the Soo.
West Division semifinal
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 4 Blind River Beavers
Thunderbirds lead best-of-seven series 2-1
Game 1: Thunderbirds 4 Beavers 2
Game 2: Thunderbirds 6 Beavers 3
Game 3: Beavers 3 Thunderbirds 2
Game 4: Friday, March 22 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 5: Sunday, March 24 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 6*: Tuesday, March 26 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 7*: Wednesday, March 27 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game Photos courtesy of Crystal Serré