Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A coast-to-coast dash by Blind River Beavers defenceman Andrey Manov with 3:15 remaining in regulation proved to be the game-winner in his club’s 5-4 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League get together Wednesday at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Setting an early tone, Sault Ste. Marie needed just 46 seconds to strike first as blueliner Kaden Dundas found himself free in the high slot where he ripped one over the glove of Beavers’ starter Charlie Burns.
Coming back with a tying tally late in the first, Blind River’s Caleb Minns darted down the right wing and sent a sizzler that clipped off of a Soo defender and sailed into the top corner by Kolton Bourret for his 15th goal of the season and 50th of his NOJHL career.
Moving to the middle stanza, the visitors took the lead during a lengthy two-man advantage and saw Ethan Pegg slide a feed across to Minns who whipped one in through a screen in front for his second of the evening.
Not done there, the Beavers connected once more, moments after the latest Soo infraction had expired, with Pegg pinching in and finding the corner off a set-up from Michael Gallagher.
Getting one back, T-Birds defenceman Kolby Fellinger kept a play onside, which eventually led to Dharan Cap finishing one off from between the hash marks for his team-leading 19th of the campaign.
Regaining their cushion in the final minute of the frame, Blind River D-man Nicholas Brady put one on target from the left point that sailed through a maze of skaters and eluded Bourret at 19:30.
Up a skater early in the third, the Soo moved to within a goal thanks to Brodie McConnell-Barker ripping a shot past the glove of Burns at 1:48.
Then then drew level with 6:19 remaining by using some sharp passing that was completed by Michael Chaffay, who went high on a diving Burns from the right side.
Manov then went end-to-end on a rush that started behind his own net and began a dash up ice that eventually saw him use a T-Birds defender as a screen and put a low shot under the pad of Bourret from the left circle for the decider, which was his initial NOJHL marker.
The result sees the Beavers improve to 23-9-2-2 on the year while the T-Birds impressive run ends at 10 games as they fell to 24-10-2-1 overall.
BEAVERS MAKE-UP DATE: The NOJHL has finalized a make-up date for a Blind River home contest against the Soo Eagles, that was postponed back in December.
That match-up will now be held on Monday, February 20 in a 1 p.m. Family Day matinee at the Blind River Community Centre and broadcast on HockeyTV.com.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel