Birds in a battle with Beavers

March 17, 2014

What is going on here?

Wasn’t this supposed to be a sweep of a series?

Put the brooms away. There will be no sweeping.

Soo Thunderbirds and Blind River Beavers are tied at a game apiece in their first-round, best-of-seven, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League playoff series.

In shocking fashion, Blind River stole the opener, a 3-2 decision in the Soo.

The Soo then rebounded to take Game 2 in Blind River — by another 3-2 score.

Two one-goal games.

It doesn’t add up.

The Thunderbirds finished atop the NOJHL regular-season standings with 99 points.

The Beavers finished in last place during the NOJHL regular season with 24 points.

My grade school arithmetic tells me that is a 75-point difference.

Not only that, in eight regular-season meetings between the two teams, the Soo won all eight.

So how can a team like Blind River be able to match a team like the Soo through two playoff games?

Well, for starters, the Beavers have been getting the bounces.

Soo outshot Blind River 36-15 in Game 1 but lost 3-2.

Soo outshot Blind River 50-19 in Game 2 and only won 3-2.

So, it’s not as if the Blind River coaches have drawn up game plans that have stymied the Soo.

Still, we give credit where it is due.

Led by fearless forwards Jacob Boisvenue and Jake Zarzycki and multiple saves from goalie Jessie Morin, the eighth-seeded Beavers are tied with the first-seeded Thunderbirds after two games.

Regardless of the shots-on-goal totals favouring the Thunderbirds, the series is tied.

Bravo to the Beavers.

But let’s not forget what this Thunderbirds team is all about.

They have skill, they have speed, they can score, they can defend, they are well-disciplined and they are well-coached.

Still, it’s one-one after two.

Maybe the Beavers have benefitted from some luck of the Irish, being that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations actually began on Saturday at the Riverside Tavern in Blind River.

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