They are the epitome of sustained success as a small market franchise in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. And as they have been ever since hiring Kyle Brick as their head hockey honcho in 2016, the Blind River Beavers are once again an NOJHL contender.
It hasn’t always been good on the Beaver dam.
The year before Brick arrived, Blind River won just 10 games. And the season before that, the Beavers did not win one single game. Not one.
In fact, the Beavers hadn’t had a winning season since the 2010-2011 campaign when Jim Capy was the head coach and de facto general manager in Blind River.
But since the young (but old looking) Brick arrived in Blind River in 2016 following an apprenticeship as an assistant coach with the Soo Thunderbirds, the Beavers have been pretty dam good in posting successive regular season records of 32-20-4, 33-19-4, 25-24-7, 37-15-4 and 9-11-1 — the latter of which was the abbreviated, COVID-related, cohort season of 2020-2021.
Now, 25 games into the 2021-2022 regular season and following a slow start, the Beavers are a solid third in the NOJHL’s West Division with 30 points from a record of 14-9-2.
And Brick, as the Beavers head coach and general manager, likes the progress that his team has made since the start of the season.
“I think we had a bit of a slow start this year … it took us a while to really figure out what we had as a group and what kind of hockey team we were going to be,” Brick relayed to Hockey News North.
“Losing (standout rookie defenseman) George Alboim (to the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League) definitely hurt but that’s part of the job … we are happy to see him succeed at the OHL level,” Brick pointed out.
As the league awaits a return to a regular schedule of games later this month, Brick likes what he has.
“We ae definitely excited about heading into the (2022 segment of the schedule) as we have made some tweaks to our lineup and we believe we have gotten better.
“The West Division is extremely tight and it should be a great race to the finish,” added Brick, whose Beavers are within range of the first place Soo Thunderbirds and second seed Soo Eagles.
Individually, Blind River features scoring leader Caleb Minns with his 14 goals, 15 assists, 29 points and dandy defenseman Ethan Pegg, who has 7-18-25 numbers.
Then there are forwards Evan Fraccaro, Jesse Dupuis and Kyle Caron, who all have seven goals apiece and Hayden Webster, an addition from the Ontario Jr. Hockey League who has six goals in just 11 games. And rookie forward Ryan Doucette out of Thunder Bay has fit in with eight points in 21 games.
Between the pipes, Jeremi Delaquis has a 6-3-0 record with a 2.56 goals against average and .918 save percentage while Sault Ste. Marie product Gavin Disano has a 6-5-2 mark with a 3.49 goals against average and .900 save percentage.
PHOTO: Blind River rookie forward Ryan Doucette, in action against the Elliot Lake Red Wings.