Beavers start NOJHL sea­son with pair of wins over Es­panola

The Standard (Elliot Lake) - - BLIND RIVER - By KELLY JAMES For The Stan­dard

if the first two games are any in­di­ca­tion, the blind river beavers will be in the thick of the bat­tle for the north­ern on­tario Ju­nior hockey league cham­pi­onship in the 2018-19 sea­son.

The beavers showed both de­ter­mi­na­tion and tal­ent as they racked up a pair of vic­to­ries over the es­panola ex­press to open the nojhl sea­son last week­end. on Fri­day in es­panola, the beavers showed plenty of heart as they ral­lied from a 2-0 deficit to post a 3-2 vic­tory, and then showed their speed and skill the fol­low­ing evening as they rolled to a lop­sided 8-1 tri­umph over the ex­press in their home opener at the blind river Com­mu­nity Cen­tre.

The re­sults from the week­end put the beavers atop the nojhl’s west­ern divi­sion stand­ings head­ing into a busy week­end of games against their north shore ri­vals. The beavers be­gin a home-and-home se­ries against the elliot lake Wild­cats on Thurs­day at 7:30 p.m. at the Cen­ten­nial arena, with the re­turn match set for satur­day evening at 7 p.m. in blind river. on sun­day af­ter­noon, the beavers travel to es­panola for an­other en­counter with the ex­press.

in their first game of the new sea­son, the beavers had to fight off a pesky ex­press squad and over­come the great goal­tend­ing of es­panola net­min­der Joel rainville. de­spite dom­i­nat­ing play and out-shoot­ing their op­po­nents 16-6 in the first pe­riod, the beavers found them­selves down 1-0 on a goal by adam mor­gan of the ex­press.

es­panola cap­i­tal­ized on a power-play early in the sec­ond pe­riod to take a 2-0 lead, as Chase lammi beat beavers goalie maxim sidel­nik. how­ever, the deficit seemed to ig­nite a sense of ur­gency in the beavers, and they re­sponded to tie the score at 2-2 by the sec­ond in­ter­mis­sion.

ian Zaleski got the come­back started for the beavers as he net­ted the first goal of the sea­son for the team from nick soum­ba­sis and sam har­ris mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod. The beavers tied the score min­utes later, as bren­dan young com­bined with Caleb serre and Justin mauro to beat rainville.

The beavers car­ried the mo­men­tum into the third pe­riod and con­tin­ued to pepper rainville with shots. Fi­nally, with 8:25 re­main­ing in reg­u­la­tion time, Zaleski com­bined with serre and dante Cava­liere for his sec­ond goal of the con­test to give the beavers their first lead of the night.

solid team de­fence and the steady goal­keep­ing of sidel­nik made the lead stand up as the ex­press pressed hard for the ty­ing goal in the fi­nal min­utes of the game. sidel­nik ended the game with 23 saves, as the beavers out-shot the ex­press 49-25 over the course of the evening.

The re­turn match of the home-and-home se­ries with the ex­press turned out to be no con­test, as the beavers put on a show for their hockey-starved home fans and cruised to an 8-1 vic­tory. af­ter a cau­tious start to the game, the beavers ex­ploded for three goals in less than six min­utes mid­way through the open­ing pe­riod and never looked back.

Tyler nott got the beavers started with his first goal of the sea­son af­ter eight min­utes of play, and less than a minute later, ethan Gra­ham made it 2-0 for blind river. a goal min­utes later by Justin mauro gave the beavers a 3-0 cush­ion by the first in­ter­mis­sion.

The sec­ond pe­riod fea­tured more of the same from the beavers, as they tacked on goals by mauro, young, har­ris and Jack mcleod to as­sume a com­mand­ing 7-0 ad­van­tage. When adam Cava­liere scored early in the third pe­riod to make it 8-0, the only ques­tion re­main­ing was whether beaver goal­tender Gar­ret boy­onoski could reg­is­ter the shutout.

alas, the shutout bid was foiled with less than three min­utes re­main­ing as dy­lan labelle scored to make the fi­nal score 8-1 for the beavers. boy­onoski stopped 27 of 28 shots by the ex­press, while the beavers bom­barded the ex­press net­min­ders with 50 shots.

af­ter two games, there are plenty of blind river play­ers among the nojhl’s scor­ing lead­ers. bren­dan young is tied for the league lead with six points, while mauro, mcleod, har­ris and serre are tied for fourth with three points each.

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