Netminder Brancato shines as Eagles shutout Beavers

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Soo Eagles goaltender Shane Brancato turned in a solid 42-save performance to post his second shutout of the season as his club blanked the Blind River Beavers 3-0 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest Friday at Pullar Stadium.

A hard-fought first frame saw the Beavers out shot the Eagles 15-12, but neither side would be able to convert offensively.

Sault Ste. Marie did pick up the lone marker of the second stanza though as recently acquired forward John McLaughlin picked up his first NOJHL goal three and a half minutes into the period, which proved to be the game-winner.

Moving on to the third, the Eagles added to their lead when Dominic Skrelja scored on the power play at 5:48 to make it 2-0.

The Soo then sealed the home ice triumph in the latter stages of the contest when Bobby Price put one into an empty net to wrap things up.

Brancato’s brilliance helped his side improve to 21-15-1-2, while Blind River, who were the hottest team in the league hitting the holiday break, saw them suffer their first regulation defeat in 10 outings as they slipped to 26-8-1-3 overall.

Jackson Hjelle made 28 saves in the setback for the visitors.

The result also put an end to an 11-game point streak for the NOJHL’s leading scorer, in Blind River’s Caleb Serre, as well as a nine-game run by fellow Beavers’ forward Devon Savignac.