BLIND RIVER, Ont. – The Soo Thunderbirds picked up a pair of tallies, and an assist, from Caleb Wood to help their side skate to a 5-1 decision over the Blind River Beavers Saturday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest at the Blind River Community Centre.
A tight-checking opening 20 minutes saw it go scoreless as the evening’s starting goaltenders, Alex Bugeja of the Thunderbirds and the Beavers’ Gavin Disano, handled each of the shots they faced with Blind River holding a 12-6 edge in attempts on goal.
In the second stanza though, Sault Ste. Marie were quick to strike when Wood spun and wired a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that flew into the upper portion of the net to give the guests the lead at 1:03.
Building on their momentum, the Soo added another five minutes later when they chipped the puck out of their own zone which allowed Andrew Malek to dart into Blind River territory and snap one blocker side into the left corner for his fifth tally of the campaign.
Malek had a glorious opportunity to notch another marker with 8:30 to go in the session, but was denied with a point-blank glove save by Disano.
It was more from the Beavers’ goalkeeper moments later as he stymied Noah Boman on a two-on-one for a second straight tremendous glove stop.
Another rush by the Thunderbirds eventually put them up by three as Wood fed a hard-charging Boman at the top of the crease who managed to chip in a chance over Disano.
It was more from the visitors later in the frame after forcing a turnover that was eventually stuffed in by Wood for his second of the contest.
A late man advantage did aid in Blind River getting on the board as a quick give-and-go saw Noah Minns set-up Jacob Kelly for his 14th of the year, which came at 19:24.
In the third, a long-range empty netter from Cameron Dutkiewicz in the late going helped seal the victory as his third point of night rounded out the scoring.
Shots on goal finished up 49-34 in the Thunderbirds’ favour with Bugeja getting the win while Disano suffered the loss.
The teams will conclude their seven-game series Sunday afternoon with a 2 p.m. start at Sault Ste. Marie’s John Rhodes Community Centre and on HockeyTV.com.