This will be Game No. 2 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 Powassan Sportsplex on April 15th.
The Voodoos will look take a two games to none lead in this best-of-seven affair after taking Friday’s Game 1 by a 4-1 count on home ice while the Beavers will attempt to level the proceedings with an all-important road victory.
Tonight’s Officials: The officials for this evening’s contest, as assigned by the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, are referees Evan McCrory and Darren Long, while the linesmen will be Kevin Connolly and Matthew Walters.
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 1-0
Game 1: Powassan 4 Blind River 1
Game 2: Saturday, April 15 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Sportsplex)
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)
Leaderboard: Heading into Game 2 of the NOJHL final, the statistical leaderboard sees plenty of talent from both squads sitting at or near the top of the lists.
Points: Seven of the Top 10 playoff point leaders currently play for either Powassan or Blind River.
The Beavers’ Yianni Liarakos paces all league skaters in total offensive production with 20 points.
He is followed by the Voodoos’ duo of Gary Mantz and Parker Bowman, who sit with 18 and 17 respectively.
Powassan’s Tyson Gilmour and the Blind River pair of Cole Peck and Max Khull share fourth overall in points with 14 apiece.
Goals: With his two tallies in Friday’s Game 1 victory, Powassan’s Parker Bowman took over the lead in NOJHL playoff goals with 10.
That’s one more than teammate Gary Mantz along with Yianni Liarakos of the Beavers.
Assists: Max Khull of Blind River continues leads the league in postseason assists with a dozen.
You also have Liarakos tied for second in this department with 11 while Cole Peck is fourth with 10 to his credit to date.
Game Winners: Including last night’s eventual difference maker, Parker Bowman now boasts a NOJHL-high four game-winning goals.
Yianni Liarakos and Caleb Serre share the Beavers’ lead in this category with two each.
Defensemen Numbers: Blind River’s Cole Peck remains the NOJHL leader in points among defencemen with 14.
Powassan’s Bo Peltier sits third overall having picked up seven while Eric Nagy is close by with six. Dayton Murray and Justin Schebel of the Voodoos are among a group supplying five playoff points each.
Streaks: There are a number of impressive streaks still intact heading into tonight’s Game 2.
Powassan has reeled off nine consecutive victories in the playoffs and have yet to taste defeat.
NOJHL MVP Nate McDonald boasts nine straight wins in net for the Voodoos.
Then there is Powassan’s Gary Mantz, who is riding a nine-game point streak entering play this evening.
Blind River’s Yianni Liarakos and the Voodoos’ Parker Bowman have both scored goals in three consecutive contests for their respective clubs.
Mantz and Tyler Gervais Rolfe have each supplied assists in their last three 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.
On Tap: After tonight’s match-up the series will then shift to the Blind River Community Centre for Games 3 & 4 of the best-of-seven affair, which will get underway at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 20 and Friday, April 21.
Thunderbird Stick Taps: This year’s final between Powassan and Blind River marks the first time in five years that the Soo Thunderbirds are not competing in the championship series. The Thunderbirds won it all in the previous two seasons as well as back in 2012 when they also captured the Dudley-Hewitt Cup. Sault Ste. Marie was league runner-up in 2013 and 2014.
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
Dayton Murray and Cade Herd paced Powassan in scoring with three points each against Blind River in the two regular season meeting between the two sides.
Meanwhile Beavers’ defenceman Jordan Kreller led his team with a goal and an assist in the triumph back in mid-January.
Powassan’s Nate McDonald was 1-0 vs. the Beavers back in September as turned aside all 28 shots he faced along the way to post his first NOJHL shutout.
Andrew Suriano of the Voodoos was 0-1 stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced in defeat at Blind River.
Myles Hektor started both regular season contests against the Voodoos and had a 1-1 record.
What’s Next: The NOJHL winner will advance to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. ‘A’ Championship, May 2-6, 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 SIJHL’s Bill Salonen Cup Final features the Dryden GM Ice Dogs taking on the English River Miners in a best-of-seven affair.
The GM Ice Dogs skated to a 5-2 triumph at home in Game 1 Friday with Game 2 set for tonight back in Dryden.
Dryden finished first in the SIJHL standings and was tabbed 12th in the final CJHL Top 20 Rankings of the season while English River ended up in third place in league play.
Meanwhile Trenton and Georgetown began the OJHL’s Buckland Trophy best-of-seven final Thursday with the Raiders skating to a 3-1 victory on home ice to begin that best-of-seven series.
The OJHL final resumes this evening with Game 2 going in Trenton.
Georgetown claimed the OJHL’s regular season crown and were also slotted second overall in the final CJHL rankings.
Trenton meanwhile was second in the OJHL standings and nabbed the No. 10 spot in the national year-end CJHL listings.
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 13th – 21st, in Cobourg, Ontario.
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 9-0)
Powassan Points: The Voodoos sit second in NOJHL playoff power play proficiency currently converting at a 29.2% clip. They’ve scored 14 times in 48 man advantage opportunities. Powassan has been equally impressive while shorthanded. They’ve only allowed three power play goals against in the 46 times they’ve been down at least one man, which gives them a league-best P.K. rate of 93.5%. They’ve also supplied three shorthanded goals in the playoffs, which also leads the league. Powassan is a perfect 7-0 when scoring first in these playoffs, which includes Friday’s Game 1 triumph against Blind River. 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 17-2 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 12 times in the third and given up 11, five of which were against Kirkland Lake on the road in the last game of the East Division semifinal. In nine outings, Powassan is averaging nearly 40 shots on net while allowing their opponents just an average of 27.4 on target.
Blind River Beavers (Record: Regular Season: 32-20-4-0 • Playoffs 8-5)
Blind River Bits: Blind River leads the league in power play success in the playoffs to date. They’ve scored 19 times while up a man in 60 chances, which gives them a 31.7 percentage rate. The Beavers are sixth however on the penalty kill at 77.4% allowing a dozen power play markers in the 53 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 13 playoff contests in 2017. When doing so, they’ve posted an 8-1 record. They are 0-4 however when the opposition notches the initial tally, including last night’s Game 1 setback vs. the Voodoos. The Beavers have outscored their opponents 13-7 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 eight goals for and 10 against. Through their first 13 postseason contests this year, Blind River has had just over 35 shots-per-game while giving up 42 per contest.