Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – As the hottest team in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, the Blind River Beavers continued their winning ways Friday, skating to an 11th consecutive victory, a 7-2 decision over the Greater Sudbury Cubs at the Blind River Community Centre.
Renewing acquaintances for the first time since back in late November, the two sides skated to a scoreless opening 20 minutes with starting goalkeepers, Noah Beaulne of the Cubs and the Beavers’ Charlie Burns doing their part defensively.
Heading to the second stanza, Blind River connected first as defenceman Andrey Manov pushed a play ahead that led to Michael Gallagher firing one from a sharp angle on the right side that found its way through Beaulne for his 19th marker of the season.
Adding another, via the power play, the home side went up by two after Joshua Thompson’s cross-crease feed found Matthew Green, who steered his 12th tally of the campaign into the open corner at 8:07.
Up a skater once more the Beavers’ duo reversed their roles on the team’s third marker as Green put a pass across to Thompson, who quickly whipped it in.
Blind River then came right back and scored again moments later thanks to Trevor Zimmer as he drove to the net and slid one by Beaulne with bodies jammed in close.
Greater Sudbury got one back as Aiden Landers blocked a shot and darted down the right wing and while going to the net got tangled up with Burns and saw the puck enter the net, which was ruled a goal following a discussion among the game officials.
Pulling closer four minutes into the third, late into a power play, Nolan Newton sent a low shot from the left circle through Burns to make it 4-2.
However, the Beavers bounced back to secure the home ice triumph with a trio of late tallies to pull out the convincing result.
Jacob Kovacs, during a man advantage, buried a one-timer off a Caleb Minns feed out them up by three before Gallagher broke free and reached the 20-goal plateau on an empty netter with 5:16 remaining.
They then saw Evan Fraccaro finish it off in the final moments while Blind River was up a skater as he patiently waited in front where he put down a puck with his hand before firing it in to round out the evening’s scoring.
With the outcome, the 36-10-2-2 Beavers move to within six points of the 40-10-2-0 Cubs in the West Division standings, while also holding a game in hand.