GALLERY: Blind River swamps Kirkland Lake to claim regular season crown

Photos: Helene Rancourt

BLIND RIVER, Ont. – An eight-goal outburst sent the Blind River Beavers on their way to an 8-1 win over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Sunday afternoon in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest at the Blind River Community Centre.

In the process, the Beavers clinched their first-ever NOJHL regular season title in franchise history.

The Greater Sudbury Cubs can tie them points wise, but Blind River holds the head-to-head tie breaker by virtue of winning the season series against them, three wins to one.

The home side began the scoring 13:37 into the first period off a Michael Gallagher point shot rang off the goal post and saw Matthew Campanella swoop in and slide in the rebound on Kirkland Lake netminder Stephen Amaro.

Moving to the middle stanza, the Beavers clicked just over a minute in when Evan Fraccaro moved down the right wing and roofed a backhand for his 23rd tally of 2023-24.

Going up by three, defenceman Tyler Vorstadt cut in from the right point and while going to the net lifted a rising backhand over the shoulder of Amaro.

A third in the frame saw Jakob Kovacs convert once more for Blind River when he banged in a blast off the end boards from teammate Owen Arnold to reach the 30-goal plateau.

Not down there, Daniel Vasic extended the hosts’ cushion, while up a skater as he finished off a Kovacs feed from behind the goal line during a man advantage opportunity.

That saw Kirkland Lake make a goaltending change with back-up Graydon Mole entering in relief.

In the third, the Beavers put the game away early markers off courtesy of Gallagher and Vorstadt.

Campenella then added another as Blind River.

The Gold Miners would eventually solve Noah Tegelaar in the late going to spoil his bid for a seventh shutout on the season when Luca Maiuri came down the left wing and snapped in a low shot.

With the victory, the Beavers snap a mini two-game winless funk and improve to a league-best 44-12-0-1.

As for the Gold Miners, the loss means they are now eliminated from playoff contention in falling to 10-39-5-2.

This also sees the Iroquois Falls securing fourth spot in the NOJHL East and will meet the Timmins Rock in a divisional semifinal in postseason play.