Blind River Beavers are hoping to get speedy, high-scoring forward Justin Mauro back in the lineup before the start of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League playoffs.
The 5-foot-8, 150-pound mini mite has been sidelined since January 5 with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL.) And according to Blind River coach-general manager Kyle Brick, Mauro is healing quicker than expected.
“The doctors tell us they are surprised at how fast and how well Justin is healing,” Brick told Hockey News North. “We should have him back for the start of the playoffs, maybe even the final game or two of the regular season. Right now, it’s a day to day thing.”
The Beavers — who are in a torrid battle for first place with the Rayside Balfour Canadians in the West Division of the NOJHL — will end the regular season at the end of February.
Playoffs in the NOJHL begin during the first week of March.
To be sure, the 17-year old Mauro has been an impact player for the Beavers, in this second season with the team.
Despite having missed 11 games due to injury, the Sault Ste. Marie product is third on the Blind River scoring chart with 13 goals, 33 assists, 46 points in 38 outings. Those totals have Mauro among the top 20 point producers in the entire 12-team NOJHL.
The aforementioned Brick, as the Beavers hockey boss, certainly likes what he has is in Mauro, who was a 15th round pick of the Erie Otters at the 2018 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft from the Soo minor midgets.
“Justin has been really good for me the past two years, it’s been nice to see him mature as a player,” Brick said of Mauro. “His offensive abilities and vision are second to none … he is the guy who we want with the puck entering the offensive zone.”
The all-round game of Mauro has also improved, said Brick.
” Justin has been also able to hone his defensive game while spending time on our penalty kill,” Brick pointed out. ” I definitely see a bright future for him in the game.”
As a 16-year old rookie in the NOJHL with Blind River in 2018-2019, Mauro produced 11 goals, 21 assists, 32 points in 53 games, regular season and playoffs included.
PHOTO: Justin Mauro of the Blind River Beavers, in action against the Powassan Voodoos.