Photos: Helene Rancourt
BLIND RIVER, Ont. – The Blind River Beavers saw Kyle Caron tally twice, including picking up the eventual game-winner, to send his side on their way to a 6-1 victory over the Elliot Lake Red Wings Monday night in the opening contest of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division playoff series at the Blind River Community Centre.
Game 2 of this best-of-three affair goes Tuesday evening in a 7 p.m. start at Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake.
A late first period power play helped Blind River collect the night’s opening goal Monday when Evan Fraccaro, while playing the point, took a Caleb Minns feed and moved into the high slot where he whipped a shot through a partial screen and watched it sail into the top left corner past Red Wings’ netminder Cameron Smith at 17:18.
Heading to the second period, the Beavers went up by a pair early in the session thanks to Caron as he darted down the left wing on a partial break and snapped in his first of the playoffs.
Moments later, the home side had an great opportunity to make it 3-0 after Dylan Hendrick was obstructed while going in alone and was awarded a penalty shot.
Elliot Lake’s Smith though out-waited him and closed the pads on a deke to stymie him on the chance.
Going back and forth, the Beavers did extend their cushion moments after a solid save by Gavin Disano, they came right back down the ice and saw James Ingram rip one into the left of the net at 5:52 off an odd-man rush.
Blind River then capped off their impressive period in the final moments off it as Andrew Tsotsos dangled down the left side and around a Red Wings’ defender before sending a perfect cross-ice backhand pass to a hard-charging Caron, who converted for his second of the night by chipping it over Smith’s pad, at 19:55.
Action in the final frame saw Minns tap in a loose puck off a goal-mouth scramble three and a half minutes in to help determine the Game 1 win.
A late Elliot Lake power play helped them dash Disano’s bid for a shutout when Matthew Shulist stuffed in a rebound off a Kjell Osborne attempt from the top of the crease with 2:31 to go.
The Beavers did get one more though before time expired as Sam McCue knocked in first NOJHL playoff marker with a backhand at the top of the crease to wrap things up offensively.
Beavers lead best-of-three series 1-0
Game 1: Blind River 6 Elliot Lake 1
Game 2: Tuesday, April 5 @ Elliot Lake 7 p.m. (Centennial Arena)
Game 3*: Wednesday, April 6 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Community Centre)