A goal in the final minute of the second period turned out to be the difference for the Soo Thunderbirds on Friday night.
The Blind River Beavers scored with 53 seconds to go in the second period and held on for a narrow 2-1 victory over the Thunderbirds in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action at the John Rhodes Community Centre.
For the Thunderbirds, it came down to the final five minutes of the frame and some breakdowns that led to scoring chances for the Beavers, including the game-winning goal by Josh Norman of the Beavers.
“We had a solid second period, but it was just the last five minutes,” aid Thunderbirds Coach John Parco. “We had a couple of letdowns and (Blind River) had a two-on-one, a three-on-two and a two-on-none. Other than that, we were pretty solid.”
Parco would say he was pleased with the Thunderbirds effort in the contest.
“We worked really hard,” Parco said. “We had plenty of chances to score but we just didn’t capitalize.”
Brandon Gordon got the start for the Thunderbirds and made 29 saves.
“He was awesome,” Parco said of the veteran netminder. “He battled in there and kept us in the game.”
Tyler Malpass had the lone goal for the home side.
Owen Robinson finished the night with a goal and an assist for the Beavers while goaltender Michael Corson made 26 saves.
“I thought we were the better team,” said Beavers Coach Kyle Brick. “We had some chances where I’d prefer we would have put the puck in the net, but Gordon played phenomenal. They took it to us as times and you can’t give a team like the Thunderbirds a chance. They went to work on us for a bit and put us on our heels, but we battled in the end.”
The loss drops the Thunderbirds record to 13-6-1-0 through 20 games and the team currently sits in a tie for top spot in the NOJHL’s West Division with the Rayside Balfour Canadians at 27 points.
The win pulls Blind River to within two points of the division leading Thunderbirds and Canadians with 25 points thanks to a record of 12-10-1-0.
The Thunderbirds return to action on Nov. 10 on the road at Pullar Stadium in Sault, Mich. against the Soo Eagles. The Thunderbirds then wrap up the weekend with a road game against the Elliot Lake Wildcats.
Next home action for the Thunderbirds in Nov. 17 against the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.