NOJHL West Final preview: Blind River Beavers vs. Greater Sudbury Cubs

SUDBURY, Ont. – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s West Division Final between the Blind River Beavers and Greater Sudbury Cubs begins Thursday night.

Featuring the teams with the two-best records during the course of the regular season, only two points separated them through 58 outings apiece, the Beavers went on to capture their first-ever seasonal title.

The last time the franchises met in the playoffs was back in 2018, with the then Rayside-Balfour Canadians coming away victorious in six games over the Beavers.

Here’s a look at the best-of-seven set heading into the opener at the Blind River Community Centre, and on


Beavers: Kyle Brick
Cubs: Darryl Moxam


Beavers: 45-12-0-1 (1st NOJHL West/1st overall)
Cubs: 43-12-1-2 (2nd NOJHL West/2nd overall)

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The Beavers won three of the four meetings between the sides, going 2-0 at home and 1-1 on the road.

Blind River also outscored Greater Sudbury by an 18-12 count.


Nov. 9 @ Sudbury: Cubs 6 Beavers 3
Dec. 2 @ Blind River: Beavers 6 Cubs 3
Feb. 17 @ Blind River: Beavers 5 Cubs 0
Feb. 22 @ Sudbury: Beavers 4 Cubs 3


NOJHL West Final
Greater Sudbury Cubs vs. Blind River Beavers
Best-of-seven series

Game 1: Thursday, April 4 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 2: Saturday, April 6 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 3: Monday, April 8 @ Sudbury 7:05 p.m. (Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex)
Game 4: Tuesday, April 9 @ Sudbury 7:05 p.m. (Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex)
Game 5*: Thursday, April 11 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 14 @ Sudbury 7:35 p.m. (Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 16 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Blind River Community Centre)
*-if necessary


PLAYOFFS: Blind River punched their ticket to the divisional final by rallying from a 3-1 series deficit against Espanola and winning each of the last three contests to see them move on. … The duo of Jesse Dupuis and Daniel Vasic paced the squad in scoring with 13 and 11 points respectively. … Both skaters notched a league-best seven goals in the first round of the playoffs. … They also sit first and second in overall league numbers. … Dupuis and Vasic had at least one point in all seven games in the opening round. … Vasic has also scored in four straight contests. … Veteran forwards Michael Gallagher and Jakob Kovacs were both over a point-per-game performers in the match-up versus the Paper Kings with eight apiece. … All three of Gallagher’s goals were game-winners, which leads the NOJHL. … Appearing in the final four games against Espanola, Andrey Manov dished out four assists to lead the club from the back-end. … Rookie D-man Adam Prax was next with three assists in five appearances. … Netminder Noah Tegelaar started in six of the seven contests vs. the Paper Kings, including winning the final three. … He sits fourth overall in the NOJHL in both goals-against average (2.69) and save percentage (.928). … Lucas Durham, Manov and Benjamin Armatage enter the series against the Cubs with points in three straight appearances. … Blind River sits sixth in the postseason on the power play at 21.7, scoring 10 times in 46 chances. … On the penalty kill, the Beavers are eighth at 69.7%, allowing 10-man advantage markers on the 33 times they were down a skater. … Blind River was 3-1 on home ice against Espanola and 1-2 on the road. … They went 4-1 when scoring first against the Paper Kings. … The club was 3-0 when leading after 40 minutes.

REGULAR SEASON: Capturing their initial league regular season title in franchise history, Blind River is the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. … Backstopping the Beavers is NOJHL rookie of the year, goaltender Noah Tegelaar. … He led all netminders in wins (27); goals-against average (2.02); save percentage (.928) and shutouts (6). … Boosting Blind River’s back-end is top defenceman award recipient Andrey Manov. … He averaged over a point-per-game and set personal single-season bests in goals (12); assists (50) and points (62). … Manov’s five game-winning goals led all league defencemen and he finished second in offensive production among rearguards. … Both were also named 1st NOJHL All-Stars. … 2nd Team selection Daniel Vasic was only held off the game sheet three times in 35 outings. … Beginning with points in each of his first 22 games of the campaign, the 17-year-old from Newmarket, Ont., went on to score 37 times and assist on 22 others. He tied for second overall with his six game-winning tallies. … The Lake Superior State, NCAA Division I commit, also had a league-high 10-game goal streak earlier. … League top defensive forward honouree Jakob Kovacs paced all NOJHL skaters in shorthanded goals, with six. … The veteran forward from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., also established single-season highs in goals (30); assists (35) and points (65). … Under NOJHL coach of the year Kyle Brick, his side went 45-12-0-1 overall. … Special teams work saw Blind River end-up fourth in power play proficiency (25.2%) and third on the penalty kill (85.2%). … They were second overall in shorthanded markers with 14. … The Beavers were also 40-3-0-1 when scoring first in a game and they only lost once when leading after two periods. … The Beavers only allowed a league-low 148 goals against.


PLAYOFFS: Earning their way to the meeting with Blind River, the Cubs downed the Soo Thunderbirds in six games in Round 1, winning the final three games, including the last two by shutout. … Goaltender Noah Metivier started all six match-ups against the Thunderbirds, featuring keeping the Soo off the game sheet in the final 121 minutes and 53 seconds of on-ice action. … His four victories tie him for top spot in that department. … Metivier sits third among all NOJHL netminders in goals-against average at 1.63. … He’s also third in save percentage .931 and is tops with his two shutouts. … Metivier has 17 playoff wins to his credit in the league. … A well-balanced output saw eight different Cubs’ players record three, or more, points in the triumph over the T-Birds. … Leading the squad was rookie Hudson Chitaroni, who picked up seven points, on three tallies and four helpers. … That places him second among rookies in offensive production. … Chitaroni’s older brother Mason was a force at both ends of the ice for Greater Sudbury. … The veteran defenceman chipped in with six points, all assists, in the series win over the Soo. … That tied him for second on the club with forward Nolan Newton. … Two of Newton’s team-high five tallies were game-winners, which also paces the squad and ties him for second in the NOJHL playoffs. … Samuel Assinewai chipped in with five points as did blueliner Josh Kavanagh. … Mason Chitaroni sits second in points by defencemen, while Kavanagh is tied for third and rookie blueliner Hudson Martin shares sixth with four points. … The Cubs went 6-26 on the power play versus the Thunderbirds, for a success rate of 23.1%, which puts them fifth overall. … They sit second meanwhile while shorthanded at 78.6%, only allowing six man-down markers in the 28 times they were short. … Greater Sudbury went 2-1 at home, and on the road, against the Soo. … The Cubs were 3-1 when scoring first against the Thunderbirds. … They were a perfect 4-0 when up after two periods of play.

REGULAR SEASON: Sporting the second-best overall record in the 12-team NOJHL, Greater Sudbury boasted a winning percentage of .767 while going 43-12-1-2 overall. … The Cubs feature plenty of veteran talent, with a nice mix of youthful skill. … NOJHL 1st Team All-Star Oliver Smith was second in the league in goals scored with 45, giving him 100 overall in his career, and finished third in scoring with 102 points. … Six of his markers were game-winners, which knotted him for second in the NOJHL in that department. Smith also had a 21-game point streak during the campaign. … 1st Team All-Rookie squad member Hudson Chitaroni led all first-year skaters in scoring, ending up tops in goals (31); assists (46) and points (77). … He finished sixth in league scoring. … They also boast two other skaters who had 60-plus points this season in forwards Samuel Assinewai and Nolan Newton. … They averaged 63 points between them and combined for 49 tallies. … A trio of veteran defencemen, in Josh Kavanagh, Chris Innes and Mason Chitaroni boost the Cubs back-end as does All-Rookie 1st Team blueliner Hudson Martin. … The foursome all had over 30 points apiece. … 3rd Team All-Star goaltender Noah Metivier goalkeeper went 24-9-0-1 overall. … His win total was second-best in the league with 14 of the starts made by the 20-year-old from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., seeing him allow two, or fewer goals, including a pair of shutouts. … Fellow goalkeeper Noah Beaulne was 18-3-1-1 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. … Greater Sudbury led the NOJHL in goals scored with 285, with skaters notching 10, or more, markers. … Solid defensively as well, the Cubs gave up the third-fewest goals-against at 167. … Their 25.5% success rate on the power play ranked them third in the league. … The club was first overall in penalty kill proficiency at 85.9%.

WHAT AWAITS: The winner of the series will meet either the Timmins Rock or Powassan Voodoos for the NOJHL championship.

The league title holder will also move on to compete in the Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, May 9-19, in Oakville, Ont.

WHERE TO WATCH: All NOJHL playoff games will be streamed live, and on demand, via, the league’s official online broadcaster.

Photo credit: Rob Fera / Sudbury Light Event Photography