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Playoff series preview: Soo Thunderbirds – Blind River Beavers

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Release Date: Friday, March 14, 2014

Playoff series preview: Soo Thunderbirds – Blind River Beavers

SUDBURY – The final of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League quarter-final playoff series, which will commence Saturday, features, on paper anyway, a heavy favourite in the Soo Thunderbirds taking on a decided underdog, the Blind River Beavers.

Sault Ste. Marie is the No. 1 seed in the NOJHL playoffs by virtue of the first place finish in the overall standings and they are also the No. 1 ranked team in all of the Canadian Junior Hockey League.

Blind River finished eighth in the NOJHL in 2013-14.
 
Here is a preview of this best-of-seven affair:

SCHEDULE: The series starts Saturday night at Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie at 7:30 p.m. before shifting to the Blind River Community Centre Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. for game 2.

The two sides will then return to Essar Centre for game 3 Thursday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Game 4 will be back in Blind River on Saturday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

If necessary, the Thunderbirds would host games 5 and 7 at home March 23 and 26 respectively while Blind River would be the site for a sixth game, if required, on March 25. Each contest would have a start time of 7:30 p.m.

NOJHL quarter-final series A: No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 8 Blind River Beavers
GAME DATE VISITOR HOME TIME VENUE
1 Saturday, March 15 Blind River Soo 7:30 p.m. Essar Centre
2 Sunday, March 16 Soo Blind River 4 p.m. Blind River Community Centre
3 Thursday, March 20 Blind River Soo 7:30 p.m. Essar Centre
4 Saturday, March 22 Soo Blind River 7:30 p.m. Blind River Community Centre
5* Sunday, March 23 Blind River Soo 7:30 p.m. Essar Centre
6* Tuesday, March 25 Soo Blind River 7:30 p.m. Blind River Community Centre
7* Wednesday, March 26 Blind River Soo 7:30 p.m. Essar Centre
* – if necessary        

HEAD-TO-HEAD: It was all T-Birds in regular season competition between the two sides as they won all eight get togethers outscoring the Beavers by a wide margin, 43-13.

Seven of those contests were played before Christmas however and two were decided by just one goal, including an overtime result back on Dec. 20.

GAME RESULTS

Sept. 22 @ Blind River: 5-3 Thunderbirds
Oct. 4 @ Soo: 9-1 Thunderbirds
Oct. 18 @ Soo: 2-1 Thunderbirds
Nov. 16 @ Blind River: 6-1 Thunderbirds
Nov. 28 @ Soo: 6-1 Thunderbirds
Dec. 20 @ Soo: 4-3 Thunderbirds (OT)
Dec. 21 @ Blind River: 6-1 Thunderbirds
Feb. 8 @ Blind River: 5-2 Thunderbirds

POINT PRODUCERS: Anthony Miller was the top point getter for the Sault vs. Blind River this season as he piled up 18 points on eight goals and 10 assists.

The NOJHL’s leading overall point and goal leader, Gavin Burbach, was next with 13 points. He scored eight times and set-up five others.

Anthony Butorac sat third with 10 points on two tallies and eight helpers.

Tyson MacLeod led the Beavers in scoring against the Thunderbirds with four assists.

Luke MacDonald, Zach Nadeau and Scott Marshall were close by with three points each.

BETWEEN THE PIPES: Sault Ste. Marie boasts a formidable tandem in net with NOJHL most valuable player Joel Horodziejczyk and his partner Brian Kment.

Horodziejczyk was 3-0 vs. the Beavers with a stingy 1.00 goals-against average and a stellar .962 save percentage while Kment was 5-0 and sported a 1.97 GAA and .881 save mark.

Dylan Knox saw most of the time in net for Blind River against the Soo and was 0-3-0-1.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The Thunderbirds scored five times on the power play in 22 chances in the season series while the Beavers went 2-23.

Neither side scored short-handed.

OVERALL: The numbers sway heavily in Sault Ste. Marie’s favour heading into the series.

The T-Birds led the NOJHL in wins (48), points (99), goals scored (245) and fewest allowed (102) while the Beavers were eighth in the league in each category.