Blind River v. Powassan

Randy Russon
April 11, 2017

Just call it a small-town showdown between two Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League markets with a combined population of less than 8,000.

As far as feel-good stories goes at this level of hockey, this one is right up there.

Representing the East Division in the NOJHL championship series are the Powassan Voodoos, who are only in their third year of existence as a franchise.

Representing the West Division are the Blind River Beavers, who are just two years removed from a zero-win season and who last season won only 10 games and missed the playoffs.

Both play out of small-market towns with almost-identical populations of about 3,500. Really, it does not get much-cozier than this.

A powerhouse, Powassan finished first overall during the regular season and has yet to taste defeat in the playoffs with eight straight victories.

On the West side, no. 2 seed Blind River needed to win Game 7 to upend no. 3 seed Rayside-Balfour Canadians in the first round of the playoffs before breezing past the no. 4 seed Soo Eagles in five games in the second round.

On paper, Powassan has the presence of more overall talent and depth than Blind River. And that is not selling the Beavers short — it is merely stating how strong the Voodoos are.

Behind the bench, both teams are in very-capable hands with third-year man Scott Wray leading the Voodoos and rookie bench boss Kyle Brick barking out the orders for the Beavers.

Both teams have good men leading the hockey departments.

In Powassan, it’s man-of-many talents Chris Dawson who is the Voodoos general manager. There is not a junior hockey executive quite like the affable Dawson, whose main occupation is that of multi-dimensional journalist as a sportswriter for a North Bay website, on-air television reporter for The Weather Network and director of Dawstar Video Scouting Services.

In Blind River, the Beavers boast a decision-making troika of the aforementioned Brick, senior advisor Charly Murray and director of player personnel Craig MacDonald who operate under the supervision of administrative general manager Penny Poisson-Lawrence.

Looking ahead at the best-of-seven playoff for the NOJHL championship, this is a series that one could almost wish that neither team would lose in that both are in uncharted waters as small-market franchises that emerged from humble experiences.

And while one team will ultimately end up ahead of the other in this series, both can already be determined winners for the improbable season they have enjoyed to date.

What you think about “Blind River v. Powassan”

  1. Well said Randy, I couldn’t agree more. Whenever I try to state how tough it will be for the Beavs to beat Powassan due to their record on ice this year, people think I am saying the Beavs can’t win. We have beaten Powassan in regular season, we can do it again. It will be tough though!

  2. Being an affiliate of the Battalion has helped the Voodoos in that a number of their players were called up to play with the Troops. It was a miserable run of injuries this season for the Battalion and the Voodoos loaned them Andy Baker, Cameron Moore, Eric Nagy, Bo Peltier, Dayton Murray and Brett Hahkala at various times (not sure if I missed somebody, but they would have also liked to borrow goalie Nate McDonald too if they could have). Playing against major junior opponents can often expose the little weaknesses certain players have, and may motivate them to try and improve their game – it sure worked for former Voodoo Steve Harland.

  3. Kerry,I know what you are saying , but this is playoff hockey now.
    They are beatable and we are the team to do it.
    We know it won’t be easy, and at this stage it shouldn’t be. With our players determination and respect for each other playing as a team, Kyle, Dylan, Craig and the Old Goat(Charley) behind us we can only move forward.
    We have come so far this season and will continue the hard fight.
    Blind River Beavers we are so proud of you all.


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