Beavers holds off resilient Wildcats side to take West quarter-final

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – A Nick Richards power play goal, nearly six minutes into the third period, proved to be the game-winner as the Blind River Beavers held off the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-4 Sunday evening in Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division quarter-final at Centennial Arena.

With the outcome, the Beavers take the best-of-three series 2-0 and now advance to take on the Rayside-Balfour Canadians in a West Division best-of-seven semifinal affair.

An early man advantage helped Blind River open the scoring as Josh Norman scored at 1:23.

Elliot Lake came back to equalize on a splendid individual effort as the Wildcats’ Connor Taylor went coast-to-coast on a lengthy rush that finished with him snapping the tying tally past Beavers’ starter Garret Boyonoski at 7:08.

The visitors would regain the lead in the latter stages of the first as Jacob Papish snapped a shot from the point that may have been deflected as the puck found its way through a maze and in.

Blind River added another before the first was complete as Jack Rudin one-timed a shot from near the slot as he finished off a nice feed from the corner.

On the power play to begin the second stanza, the home side quickly moved back to within a goal as Jacob Kelly made a crisp pass to a hard-charging Clark Allair who cut in and tucked his first of the postseason past Boyonoski 63 seconds into the session.

However, the Beavers got that back with a man advantage effort of their own at 16:15 when Matthew Murray pinched in from his right point position and ripped one through Elliot Lake netminder Logan Sawka for his second of the playoffs.

Elliot Lake special teams clicked again early in the third as they produced their second extra man effort of the night as William Bucsis completed a nice three-way play with Jacob Kelly and Allair 36 seconds into the final period.

The fifth power play goal of the night proved to be the decider as it helped Blind River go up 5-3 at 5:48 as Richards went high on Sawka.

Not giving up, the Wildcats crept closer in this back and forth affair with Kelly burying one from in close midway through the frame.

Elliot Lake pressed hard to try and force overtime, but the Beavers’ defence tightened up to help secure the road victory and take the series.

Owen Robinson and Ryan Mulligan had two assists apiece for Blind River as Kelly and Allair for the Wildcats.

Shots on goal in the contest favoured Elliot Lake by a 47-32 count with Boyonoski picking up the win while Sawka suffered the season-ending defeat for the Wildcats.

NOJHL Playoffs

Series B
West Division quarter-final series
No. 4 Blind River Beavers vs. No. 5 Elliot Lake Wildcats
Blind River wins best-of-three series 2-0
Game 1: Blind River 3 Elliot Lake 0
Game 2: Blind River 5 Elliot Lake 4