Two teams have advanced to the second round of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League playoffs, two others have been eliminated and the remaining four are on ice tonight.
Second-seeded Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and third-seeded Espanola Rivermen both swept their opening-round playoff series in four games, sidelining the seventh-seeded North Bay Trappers and sixth-seeded Sudbury Nickel Barons, respectively.
Elsewhere, first-seeded Soo Thunderbirds play host to eighth-seeded Blind River Beavers tonight in a set that is stunningly tied at 1-1 while fourth-seeded Abitibi Eskimos and fifth-seeded Elliot Lake Bobcats resume hostilities this evening in a nasty series that is likewise tied 1-1.
While the Kirkland Lake sweep of nomadic North Bay was no shocker, Espanola taking the broom to Sudbury was somewhat of a surprise.
Most observers were calling for Espanola to prevail over Sudbury — but in six or seven games, not four.
In the end, though, the Nickel Barons could not contain the Rivermen rifles in allowing Espanola to pull the trigger 24 times in silencing Sudbury by 6-3, 5-2, 6-2, 7-6 scores.
Led by the likes of Corbin Bean, Brad Edwards, Brandon Janke and Blake Peavey, Espanola simply had too much firepower for Sudbury to handle.
As for the potential upset-in-the-making involving first-place Soo and last-place Blind River, do the Beavers really have what it takes to beat the Thunderbirds three more times?
But outside of a few die-hard Beavers fans, how many really expected the Soo-Blind River series to be tied at one after two?