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Kovacs scores in overtime to give Beavers win over Thunderbirds

By Matt Stefano

A former Soo Thunderbird got the job done in overtime for the Blind River Beavers on Tuesday night.

On Tuesday night, former Soo Thunderbirds forward Jake Kovacs scored the overtime goal for the Blind River Beavers with just 33 seconds left to go in overtime, giving the Beavers a 3-2 win over the Soo Thunderbirds at the Blind River Community Centre in Blind River.

The win also gave the Beavers a three-point-lead over the Soo Thunderbirds for second place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.

“It was a big play by Jake tonight in overtime,” said Blind River Beavers head coach Kyle Brick, whose team now has 66 points on the season. “Jake made a really nice move in overtime and had a really nice finish, and it was great to see him get rewarded for how hard he works.”

“Scoring that goal in overtime definitely felt awesome,” said Kovacs, who gave himself his second career overtime tally on Tuesday night. “I don’t know how else to describe it. It really felt amazing.”

During Tuesday night’s game, the Thunderbirds were missing five players from lineup, including Kolby Fellinger (Injury), Jackson Truchan (Injury), Samuel Lake (Sick), Anton Petrovskiy (Injury) and Brodie McConnell-Barker (Still up with the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds).

For Tuesday night’s game, the Thunderbirds also had three affiliate players in their lineup, including Callum McAuley, Cole Cond and Candon O’Neill.

“I thought we did some good things at times during tonight’s game, but we couldn’t string together a full sixty minutes,” said Soo Thunderbirds forward Justin Mauro, whose team led the Beavers 2-1 through forty minutes of play. “No fault to our affiliate players, because I thought they all had a great night and we appreciate their help.”

With the game scoreless late in the opening period, the Thunderbirds then opened the scoring at the 19:10 mark of the first, as former Blind River Beavers forward Justin Mauro scored his 9th goal of the season, which put the Thunderbirds up 1-0 through twenty minutes of play.

Mauro, who scored his 9th goal of the season, also found the back of the net for the fourth time this season against his former team (The Blind River Beavers).

With the Thunderbirds leading the Beavers 1-0 almost three and a half minutes into the second, it would then be Beavers forward and Russell, Manitoba native Joshua Thompson getting his 16th goal of the season from Nicholas Brady at 3:29, which tied things up at one.

The Thunderbirds would then retake the lead on the power play late in the second, as third-year defenceman Kaden Dundas would notch his 8th goal of the season from Michael Chaffay and Justin Mauro at 15:01, which put the Thunderbirds up 2-1 heading into the third.

“During the second intermission, I told my guys just to find a way to win a hockey game, and they did,” Brick said. “We’re happy with the outcome, but there’s still a lot to fix moving forward.”

With the Thunderbirds leading the Beavers 2-1 just over eleven minutes into the third, it would then be Beavers forward and Northville, Michigan native Michael Gallagher getting his 16th goal of the season from Joshua Thompson and Andrey Manov at 11:05, which tied things up at two, and eventually sent the game to overtime.

“The Beavers are a hard working team and we knew that heading into tonight’s game,” Mauro said. “By not capitalizing on our chances, we kept them in the game late. Plus our backend ran into some injury trouble after Ranon (Joseph) got injured in the second period.”

Thunderbirds goaltender Landon Miller gave up 3 goals on 32 shots in the loss while Beavers netminder Charlie Burns made 27 saves for the victory.

With the loss, the Thunderbirds record now falls to 29-11-3-2 on the season, good for 63 points.

They also still sit in third place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings.

“It’s always a big game anytime we play against the Thunderbirds,” Brick said. “Us and the Thunderbirds are two pretty evenly matched teams and we were aware that they had a short bench tonight, so we were hoping to jump on that and get the two points.”

Next action for the Thunderbirds will be on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., when they visit Espanola to take on the Espanola Paper Kings at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.

(Photo credit to Helene Rancourt)

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