Manov’s late game-winning goal snaps Thunderbirds 10-game winning streak

By Matt Stefano

Sometimes your first career goal can turn out to be the most important goal of the game.

That’s what happened when Blind River Beavers defenceman Andrey Manov scored late in the game on Wednesday night in the Soo.

On Wednesday night, Blind River Beavers defenceman Andrey Manov scored his first NOJHL goal at the 16:44 mark of the third period which proved to be the game-winner, as the Blind River Beavers went on to defeat the Soo Thunderbirds by a score of 5-4 at the John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.

Manov’s first NOJHL goal at the 16:44 mark of the third period broke a 4-4 tie.

“It felt great to get my first NOJHL goal tonight, but tonight was also a full team effort,” said Blind River Beavers defenceman Andrey Manov, who played in his 9th game with the Beavers on Wednesday night since being acquired in a trade from the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders back on December 1. “It also felt really good to help out the boys tonight and take the win.”

“Manny (Andrey Manov) made a big play at the end of tonight’s game and he’s been doing that for us ever since he got here (Blind River),” added Blind River Beavers head coach Kyle Brick, whose team also snapped the Soo Thunderbirds 10-game winning streak.

Manov, who scored his first NOJHL goal, which proved to be the game-winner, has now given himself a goal and an assist in 9 games played with the Blind River Beavers.

Prior to joining the Beavers at the beginning of December, Manov had 0 goals and 1 assist in 14 games played as a member of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders.

“I’m really loving this team (Blind River Beavers) that I’m on right now,” Manov said. “The boys are nothing but great and Blind River has a great environment to develop your game and I’m really happy to be apart of it.”

The Beavers, who defeated the Soo Thunderbirds 5-4 on Wednesday night in the Soo, were also coming off a 3-0 loss to the Soo Thunderbirds one night ago (Tuesday night) in Blind River.

“I thought it was a great game in all,” Brick said. “We realized we had to at least get a split with this two-game-stand against the Thunderbirds, but we also had to kill off a lot of penalties in the third period, and the Thunderbirds have a lethal power play, so at that time we put ourselves in a tough position.”

After trailing the Blind River Beavers 4-2 after forty minutes of play, the Soo Thunderbirds then came back to score a pair of goals in the third period, which tied the game at four, but eventually fell behind to the Beavers again with just over three minutes to go in regulation.

“Tonight wasn’t a great effort out of us at all,” said Soo Thunderbirds head coach Cole Jarrett, whose team still sits one point ahead of the Beavers for second place in the NOJHL’s West Division standings. “If you asked everybody in our dressing room they would tell you the same thing. We were feeling pretty good about ourselves after Tuesday night’s 3-0 win over in Blind River, but it didn’t translate onto the ice tonight. These games are tough ones, but it’s just part of the learning process for us and we’ll try to take what we can out of it and move forward.”

During Wednesday night’s game, Thunderbirds rookie goaltender Kolton Bourret gave up 5 goals on 32 shots in the loss, and had his winning streak snapped at nine games.

Bourret, who entered Wednesday night’s game on a nine-game winning streak, also had the longest winning streak out of all NOJHL goaltenders this season.

“We let the Beavers come out of their zone really easy most of the night,” Jarrett said. “We let them skate through the neutral zone untouched and we had a bad gap with our defence and that’s what happens when you put it out all on your goaltender. Kolton did a good job of battling, but if you ask him I’m sure he’d say he’d want a couple of those goals back and that’s the nature of goaltending. Tonight we just didn’t have enough in front of him.”

The Thunderbirds opened the scoring just 46 seconds into the first period, as third-year defenceman Kaden Dundas notched his 6th goal of the season on the Thunderbirds first shot on net, which gave his club an early 1-0 lead.

Dundas, who scored his 6th goal of the season, also set his career-high for most goals scored in a single season.

The 19-year-old defenceman had 5 goals in 44 games played last season in 2021-2022.

“Kaden and Kolby Fellinger have been playing together since the Christmas break,” Jarrett said. “I have really liked there (Kaden Dundas and Kolby Fellinger) game, and for Kaden, playing with Fellinger simplified his game a bit and it’s working to his benefit. Kaden is an offensive player whose got offensive instincts.”

With the Thunderbirds leading the Beavers 1-0 late in the opening period, the Beavers would then tie the game up at the 18:20 mark, courtesy of Caleb Minns 15th goal of the season, which made the score 1-1 heading into the second.

Minns, who scored the tying goal for the Beavers late in the first period, finished the game with a pair of goals, including one on the power play.

Beavers defenceman Ethan Pegg had a goal and an assist on Wednesday night while forward Jake Kovacs also had a multi-point game of his own, with two assists.

Defenceman Nic Brady also had a goal for the Beavers on Wednesday night at the 19:31 mark of the second period, which at that time gave the Beavers a 4-2 lead.

Zane Burleigh and Michael Gallagher also both got on the scoresheet for the Beavers with one assist each.

Thunderbirds leading scorer Dharan Cap was named second star of the game on Wednesday night as he scored once and set up two others while Brodie McConnell-Barker (power play) and Michael Chaffay both tallied a goal each.

Kolby Fellinger, Jackson Truchan, Youssef Chaouachi, Samuel Lake, Alex Rememda and Justin Mauro also all got on the scoresheet for the Thunderbirds with one assist each.

Beavers goaltender Charlie Burns made 29 saves for the victory.

The Thunderbirds will now be back in action on Friday night at 7:30 p.m., when they visit Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to take on the Soo Eagles at Pullar Stadium.

(Photo credit to Bob Davies)

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