Photos: Bob Davies
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Jackson Truchan notched an early goal, then went on to dish out two assists to lead the Soo Thunderbirds to 4-1 victory over the Blind River Beavers Monday night in the third game of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at John Rhodes Community Centre.
The result gives a Thunderbirds a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and will have a chance to close it out on home ice Wednesday, in a 7 p.m. start back at John Rhodes.
A surging Truchan kept his torrid start to the playoffs going for Sault Ste. Marie as he took a cross-ice pass from Ranon Joseph then dashed down the right wing before cutting inside on a defender and firing a shot past Blind River netminder Gavin Disano just 29 seconds into the contest.
Settling down after that, Disano made a number of big stops to keep it close.
Remaining a one-goal game into the second period, the Thunderbirds power play went to work in the back-half of the session as they connected twice on the man advantage to go up by three.
Brock Santa Maria notched the initial extra-man effort by steering in a nice feed from Truchan at 11:16.
They then saw Dharan Cap click as he roofed a Truchan backhand set-up from the left circle.
The helper for Truchan gives him a league-high 11 points through three postseason outings.
Getting one back in the final moments of the stanza, the Beavers’ Matthew Green put a play over to Michael Gallagher, who had plenty of space to deposit his first of the postseason at 19:44, in beating netminder Landon Miller while Blind River was up a skater.
In the third, the Soo got that back quickly when Santa Maria won a puck battle along the end boards and put it in front where Michael Chaffay swooped in and went top shelf just over a minute in.
TheT-Birds then shut the door defensively the remainder of the match-up to collect the triumph and move to within a win away from advancing to the West final.
NOJHL West Division semifinal
Blind River Beavers vs. Soo Thunderbirds
Game 1: Thunderbirds 6 Beavers 3
Game 2: Thunderbirds 5 Beavers 4
Game 3: Thunderbirds 4 Beavers 1
Game 4: Wednesday, March 29 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 5*: Friday, March 31 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 6*: Saturday, April 1 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (John Rhodes Community Centre)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 4 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Soo leads best–of–seven series 3-0