Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – A Marc LaFrance marker 74 seconds into overtime was the game-winner as the Soo Eagles withstood a Blind River Beavers comeback bid before prevailing 3-2 Saturday in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play at Blind River Community Centre.
A tight-checking opening 20 minutes was scoreless thanks in part due to the goaltending of Sault Ste. Marie’s Gabe Rosek and Blind River’s Gavin Disano.
Breaking the deadlock in the second stanza, the visiting Eagles connected nearly five minutes in as Chase Tallaire drove down the right wing and fired a shot that was stopped by Disano, but the rebound went right to a hard-charging Brian Fiddes, who slammed in his 10th the of the season, into the open side.
Adding to their lead early in the third, the visitors made it 2-0, three and a half minutes in, thanks to Hayden Daca as his attempt from the left point, during a power play, clipped off the skate of a Beavers’ defender and changed direction enough to elude Disano.
Blind River answered that a few shifts later to pull back to within one as Caleb Minns converted on a two-on-one as he outwaited Rosek and lifted in his 16th of the season at 5:23.
Late in the third, and with their goaltender out for an extra attacker, the Beavers forced OT with 25 seconds remaining in regulation, as Evan Fraccaro stuffed in the tying tally with a slew of bodies jammed in front of Rosek.
In extra time though, LaFrance won it for the Soo as he drove around a defender and lifted a backhander from close range over Disano’s pad to give the guests the victory.
The result sees the Eagles raise their record to 21-7-2-1 while Blind River picked up a point in defeat as they fell to 17-12-4-0 on the year.