Dupuis delivers as Blind River tops Espanola

BLIND RIVER, Ont. – Veteran Blind River Beavers forward Jesse Dupuis tallied twice, and set-up two others, to help propel his side to a 6-3 victory over the Espanola Paper Kings Thursday in Game 1 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at the Blind River Community Centre.

Notching the initial tally of the 2024 playoffs, the Beavers came out of their own zone on a two-on-one and saw Dupuis work a give-and-go with Michael Gallagher before taking his return feed and whipping it upstairs on a diving Paper Kings starter Jake Marois at 5:16.

Drawing level in second stanza, Espanola was awarded a penalty shot after it was deemed a Blind River defender had covered the puck in the crease.

With the opportunity, NOJHL MVP Lucas Signoretti glided in slowly, before ramping it up and neatly tucking the tying tally between the legs of goaltender Noah Tegelaar, with a nifty backhand.

An extended power play aided in the visitors going in front at 12:26 when Kyle den Ouden snagged a loose puck at the right of the crease and promptly deposited it into the back of the net.

Blind River answered that deep in the frame, off an odd-man rush, where Dupuis found Daniel Vasic driving down the slot where his attempt caught part of an Espanola defenceman’s stick and knuckled through Marois.

Picking up another late marker, Vasic connected at 19:55 with the teams skating four aside.

On the goal, Dupuis picked up his third point by sending a feed into the middle that Vasic ripped off the post and in.

In the third, the Beavers tacked on two early markers to put them up by three.

Gallagher began the outburst by working his way to a prime scoring area and wiring one past a screened Espanola netminder, a minute and half in.

Dupuis continued his big evening, with his fourth point a couple of shifts later, as he wheeled down the right wing and snapped one short side on Marois.

The Paper Kings pulled closer with their goalie out, off the stick of Blake Peters-Davey at 18:52, who stuffed in a back hand from in close, before Jakob Kovacs iced the home win for the Beavers with an empty netter in the final moments to wrap things up.

Game 2 goes Saturday back in Blind River at 7 p.m. and online via FLOHockey.tv.

NOJHL West semifinal
Blind River Beavers vs. Espanola Paper Kings
Blind River leads best-of-seven series 1-0

Game 1: Beavers 6 Paper Kings 3
Game 2: Saturday, March 23 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 3: Sunday, March 24 @ Espanola 7 p.m. (Regional Recreation Complex)
Game 4: Tuesday, March 26 @ Espanola 7 p.m. (Regional Recreation Complex)
Game 5*: Thursday, March 28 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 6*: Friday, March 29 @ Espanola 7:30 p.m. (Regional Recreation Complex)
Game 7*: Sunday, March 31 @ Blind River 2 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
*-if necessary