It wasn’t a victory.
But Blind River Beavers coach Kyle Brick credited his team for a hard fought effort in gaining a point from a 6-5 shootout loss to the Soo Thunderbirds in Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League action from Friday night.
The visiting Beavers forced the shootout with a power play goal by Matt Cato with less than three minutes to play in the third period.
“We showed a lot of resolve in killing off a number of penalties, especially in the third period, and I give our guys credit for not giving up,” Brick told Hockey News North. “That was a tough point that our guys earned. I liked our compete level. We battled hard.”
It was a see-saw match in which the Thunderbirds scored first only to have the Beavers eventually take a 4-2 lead before the Soo rebounded to go ahead 5-4 in the third period and then have Blind River eventually tie it.
And it was powerful skater Cooper Smyl — who also had a goal in regulation — coming through with the only shootout marker to give the Thunderbirds the win and improve their record to 6-3-1 through 10 games on the season.
Brock Santa Maria, with his third and fourth goals of the season, paced the attack for the Soo, which also got markers from Caleb Wood and hard-shooting defenseman Cameron Dutkiewicz.
Cato, with two goals, Jacob Kelly, Justin Mauro and Dre Leismeister replied for Blind River, which now has a record of 5-4-1 through 10 games. Kelly also had two assists and now has a league-best 10-12-22 totals in 10 games.
Forward Nick Jameus, a Sault Ste. Marie lad, picked up an assist for Blind River and played an effective, two-way game for the Beavers.
Rookie goalie Gavin Disano made 37 saves for Blind River, several of them in impressive fashion. A Sault Ste. Marie product, the diminutive Disano shrugged off a pair of bad bounce goals to make a number of clutch saves, including key stops when the Beavers were shorthanded.
It was a penalty filled match with 18 infractions in a game where the referees were often hesitant and made a number of calls that were borderline, to say the least.
The two teams will meet again on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 with the Beavers playing host to the Thunderbirds.