It was a spirited effort by a team that played with just two of its regular defensemen due to league suspension.
But despite numerous glorious scoring opportunities, the visiting Blind River Beavers came up short in yet another cohort match with the Soo Thunderbirds in Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League action on Thursday.
In the end, a 4-0 deficit proved to be too much for Blind River to overcome. The Beavers netted a pair of goals by the 10:00 minute mark of the third period but could score no more in dropping a hard fought 4-2 decision to the Thunderbirds.
Despite being short on players, Blind River out-shot the Soo 43-39 but missed several close-in scoring chances by either shooting wide or being stymied by Thunderbirds goalie Alex Bugeja, who was outstanding.
Cooper Smyl, with a pair of goals — including a shorthanded marker — upped his tally to 15 on the season while continuing to look like a legitimate Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association prospect. Stud defenseman Cameron Dutkiewicz, with his eighth of the season, and Andrew Malek also scored for the Soo.
Jacob Kelly, with his 13th of the season, and Thomas Michaud, with his seventh goal in just six games, replied for Blind River.
Numerous questionable penalties, including game ejections, once again negatively affected the game.
The win for the Thunderbirds was their seventh in 12 games against the Beavers in this abbreviated NOJHL season.
In total, the Soo has now played 16 games this season — 12 against Blind River and four versus the Espanola Express — and has a record of 10-5-1.
Blind River has also played 16 games and now has a record of 7-8-1. Besides the 12 games against the Soo, the Beavers have faced off against the Rayside Balfour Canadians four times.
The Thunderbirds and Beavers are slated to meet five more times before the end of the month to close out the COVID-19 affected NOJHL season.