NOJHL Game Three Preview: Beavers vs Voodoos

This will be game three of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy Championship Series between the Powassan Voodoos and the Blind River Beavers at the Blind River Community Centre on April 20th.

The Voodoos lead the best-of-seven set 2-0 heading into this evening’s contest.

Game 4 goes Friday back in Blind River and features another 7 p.m. start.

Tonight’s Officials: The officials for this evening’s contest, as assigned by the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, are referees Derek Shoppoff and Max Kallio, while the linesmen will be Josh Houslander and Kyle Lekun.

Game 2 Recap: A Ryan Theriault goal from point-blank range with 6:07 remaining in regulation proved to be difference maker as the Powassan Voodoos edged the Blind River Beavers 3-2 Saturday in a well-played Game 2 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy championship series at the Powassan Sportsplex.

After being 7-0 when scoring first in the playoffs, the Voodoos added to that impressive stat by once again notching the opening tally as Brett Hahkala spun and fired a blast from the right face-off circle that slipped between the arm and body of Blind River starter Myles Hektor and rolled across the goal line 2:51 into the contest.

A Powassan power play helped them go up by two near the midway point of the session when Andy Baker, the league’s leading goal scorer in the regular season, wheeled out of the corner after accepting a pass from Gary Mantz and quickly darted in front and fired one low right side past a sprawling Hektor.

The assist for Mantz helped him extend a consecutive game point streak to 10 in the process as he’s etched his name on the score sheet in each of the Voodoos’ postseason contests in 2017 to date.

Penalties came back to haunt the home side in the latter stages of the first as Blind River’s Yianni Liarakos teed one up for Max Khull in the slot and he made no mistake wiring his attempt past Nate McDonald during a two-man advantage.

While still shorthanded, but forcing a turnover late in the period, Powassan’s Shane Beaulieu would be hauled down on a break and was awarded the initial penalty shot of the playoffs.

He was however thwarted by Hektor after Beaulieu made a couple of quick stick dekes, but saw his snap shot denied by the Beavers’ netminder.

A tight-checking second stanza saw neither side connect offensively with the Voodoos carrying their 2-1 cushion into the third.

The visitors tied it in the first minute of the final frame thanks to Zak Lambrecht, who forced his way to the front of the net and chipped the equalizer past McDonald with the clubs skating four players aside for his sixth goal of the playoffs.

Powassan regained the lead however at 13:53 capitalizing when a Blind River defender fanned on a clearing attempt, which allowed Hahkala and Tyson Gilmour to make a couple of quick passes that in turn found an open Theriault at the top of the crease, who quickly knocked in the game-winner to the right side of the net from close range.

Blind River looked to force overtime by pulling their goaltender with a minute and a half remaining in an effort to tie it and force overtime.

Despite the Beavers pressing to draw level, the Voodoos held firm to secure their 10th consecutive playoff triumph.

Gilmour dished out two assists joining Hahkala with two-point nights.

McDonald improved to 10-0 in the postseason making 28 saves in picking up the victory while Hektor was solid in defeat for Blind River stopping 29 of 32 along the way.

Game 1 Recap: In Friday’s match-up, the two teams traded quality chances in the early going only to see the two starting goaltenders in Powassan’s Nate McDonald and Blind River’s Aidan Doak supply a couple of point-blank stops each.

A fast-paced frame saw the Voodoos start to get the better chances outshooting the Beavers 14-4 overall, but remain scoreless.

Picking up the first man advantage opportunity of the series, early in the middle stanza, Doak and the Blind River penalty killers were equal to the task to keep the game at 0-0.

Continuing to press the pace, the Voodoos were rewarded with the night’s opening tally near the midway mark of the second session following a Beavers’ turnover that was forced by a strong fore-check courtesy of Gabriel Rheault that allowed Cade Herd to wire one top shelf on Doak from the left face-off dot.

Shots on goal after 40 minutes saw the home side hold a 30-15 edge.

Powassan added to their lead early in the final frame after breaking out of their own zone, as Tyler Gervais-Rolfe chipped it over to Bowman whose attempt from a very sharp angle near the left of the net found its way short side past Doak at 1:28.

Blind River came right back however to cut the deficit in half a minute and a half later when Yianni Liarakos neatly redirected an Andrew Trowbridge left point blast that eluded McDonald.

The visitors had a quality chance to tie things up later in the period, with a four-minute power play, but they could not solve the NOJHL most valuable player in the Voodoos’ net.

Powassan’s Brett Hahkala picked up some insurance at 13:29 as his harmless looking, rising wrist shot from the blue line bounced off Doak’s catching glove and rolled into the open goal.

After pulling their netminder with over two minutes to remaining in favour of an extra attacker, Blind River allowed an empty netter from Bowman, with Gervais-Rolfe supplying his second assist of the night, to round out the scoring.

Final shots on goal in the contest were 46-29 in Powassan’s favour as the Voodoos skated to their ninth consecutive playoff victory to remain unbeaten in the postseason.

NOJHL Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy League Championship Series Schedule
Powassan Voodoos vs. Blind River Beavers
Voodoos lead best-of-seven series 2-0
Game 1: Powassan 4 Blind River 1
Game 2: Powassan 3 Blind River 2
Game 3: Thursday, April 20 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 4: Friday, April 21 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 5*: Sunday, April 23 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Sportsplex)
Game 6*: Tuesday, April 25 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 7*: Thursday, April 27 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Sportsplex)
*if necessary

Leaderboard: Heading into game three of the NOJHL final, the statistical leaderboard continues to see plenty of talent from both squads sitting at or near the top of the lists.

Points: The top six and seven of the leading 10 playoff point leaders currently play for either Powassan or Blind River.

The Beavers’ Yianni Liarakos still paces all league skaters in total offensive production with 21 points.

He is followed by the Voodoos’ duo of Gary Mantz and Parker Bowman, who sit with 19 and 18 respectively. Powassan’s Tyson Gilmour is fourth with 16 points while Blind River’s Cole Peck and Max Khull share fifth with 15 points.

Goals: Powassan’s Parker Bowman remains the leader in NOJHL playoff goals with 10.

That’s one more than teammate Gary Mantz along with Yianni Liarakos of the Beavers.

Assists: Max Khull and Yianni Liarskos of Blind River pace the pack in postseason assists with 12.

Cole Peck is knotted for third with 11 while Gary Mantz’s 10 puts him fifth overall.

Game Winners: Parker Bowman boasts a NOJHL-high four game-winning goals.

Yianni Liarakos and Caleb Serre share the Beavers’ lead in this category with two each.

Defenseman Numbers: Blind River’s Cole Peck remains the NOJHL leader in points among defencemen with 15. Powassan’s Bo Peltier and Eric Nagy are close by with seven apiece. Dayton Murray and Justin Schebel of the Voodoos are among a group supplying five playoff points each.

Streaks: There are three impressive streaks still intact heading into April 20th game three.

Powassan has reeled off 10 consecutive victories in the playoffs and have yet to taste defeat and NOJHL MVP Nate McDonald boasts 10 straight wins in net for the Voodoos.

Then there is Powassan’s Gary Mantz, who is riding an impressive 10-game point streak entering play this evening as he has etched his name on the score sheet in every postseason contest in 2017 to date. Mantz has also supplied assists in his last four match-ups.

First Time: Both Powassan and Blind River are making their first-ever appearance in the NOJHL’s Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy league championship series. In fact, entering this year’s playoffs, the Beavers had never won a playoff round in their history and now boast two series triumphs from their impressive postseason play in 2017.

Head to Head: Regular season games in 2016-17 between Powassan and Blind River.

Saturday, Sept. 24 @ Powassan: Voodoos 6 Beavers 0
Sunday, Jan. 15 @ Blind River: Beavers 3 Voodoos 1

What’s Next: The NOJHL winner will advance to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. ‘A’ Championship, May 2nd – 6th, in Trenton, Ontario Whichever team prevails, it will mark their first time representing the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup.

At that four-team event, the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy title holder will meet the champion of the Superior International Junior Hockey League as well as both the Trenton Golden Hawks and Georgetown Raiders from the Ontario Junior Hockey League.

The Dryden GM Ice Dogs hold a commanding three games to none lead on the English River Miners and can claim the Bill Salonen Cup title with a victory in game four, which goes tonight in Red Lake, Ont.

Meanwhile Game 4 of the OJHL’s Buckland Trophy best-of-seven final goes tonight in Trenton and the hometown Golden Hawks host the Georgetown Raiders. Georgetown leads that best-of-seven 2-1 with the home team winning each of the first three contests.

As the Golden Hawks are also hosting the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, Georgetown will be the second OJHL representative at the DHC, regardless of the outcome of that league championship series.

The Dudley-Hewitt winner will then advance to represent the region at the RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A Championship, May 13-21, in Cobourg, Ont. The RBC Cup-host Cobourg Cougars were swept by the Golden Hawks in OJHL semifinal action and will have lengthy wait before returning to game action in mid-May.

Powassan Voodoos (Record: Regular Season: 46-7-2-1 • Playoffs 10-0)

Powassan Points: The Voodoos are tied for first in NOJHL playoff power play proficiency at a 29.4% clip. They’ve scored 15 times in 51 man advantage opportunities.  Powassan has been equally impressive while shorthanded. They’ve only allowed four power play goals against in the 54 times they’ve been down at least one man, which gives them a league-best P.K. rate of 92.6%. They’ve also supplied three shorthanded goals in the playoffs, which also leads the league.  Powassan is a perfect 8-0 when scoring first in these playoffs, including the first two games of the finals. The Voodoos are 2-0 when their opponent gets on the board first.  Strong starts have aided Powassan so far in the 2017 playoffs as they’ve outscored the opposition 19-3 in first period goals. They are even better in the middle stanza as they notched 20 tallies and have only allowed two.  The Voodoos have scored 13 times in the third and given up 12, five of which were against Kirkland Lake on the road in the last game of the East Division semifinal.  In 10 outings, Powassan is averaging 39.1 shots on net per game while allowing their opponents just an average of 27.7 on target.

Blind River Beavers (Record: Regular Season: 32-20-4-0 • Playoffs 8-6)

Blind River Bits: Blind River is tied for the league in power play success. They’ve scored 20 times while up a man in 68 chances, which gives them a 29.4 percentage rate.  The Beavers are sixth however on the penalty kill at 76.8% allowing a 13 power play markers in the 56 times they’ve been shorthanded.  Their two man-down tallies tie them for second in the league.  The Beavers are 1-1 in playoff games that have gone to overtime.  Blind River has scored the first goal in nine of their 14 playoff contests in 2017. When doing so, they’ve posted an 8-1 record. They are 0-5 however when the opposition notches the initial tally, including the first two games vs. the Voodoos.  The Beavers have outscored their opponents 14-9 in the first period of games in the playoffs.  In second period action, they’ve connected 17 times and have given up 13.  Third period play has them with nine goals for and 11 against.  Through their first 14 postseason contests this year, Blind River is averaging 33.5 shots-per-game while giving up just over 42 against per contest.

Source: NOJHL

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