Blind River Beavers: Welcome

Tuesday, November 1

We've moved!

Actually, we're still in good old Blind River, but our website has moved.  Please join us at for our current roster, schedule and team news and information.

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Thursday, September 22

Beavers beat Abitibi for first win of season

The Standard

The Blind River Beavers have broken into the victory column by virtue of a hard-fought 3-2 win over the Abitibi Eskimos on Sunday.

Trailing 2-1 entering the third period at the Blind River Community Centre, the Beavers rallied with a pair of power-play goals to trump the Eskimos and earn their first victory of the young Northern Ontario Junior 'A' Hockey League season. The previous evening, the Beavers had fallen to 0-3 on the season as they were thumped 8-0 by the Sudbury Cubs.

The Eskimos charged out to a quick start against the youthful Beavers, as Jacob Kord scored just 4:16 after the opening face-off to give Abitibi a 1-0 lead. Behind the solid goaltending of Brandon Currie, however, the Beavers recovered and tied the score late in the first period when Scott Marshall converted the rebound of Cory McEwen's shot.

The Eskimos dominated the second period and took a 2-1 lead midway through the frame on a power-play goal by Kealey Cummings. Once again, Currie stemmed the tide and kept the Beavers in the game with several key saves to maintain just a one-goal deficit heading to the final stanza.

The momentum turned in Blind River's favour early in the third period when Alex Cooper tied the score at 2-2. Cooper was parked at the left side of the net and beat Abitibi netminder Martin Bilodeau with a quick shot on the rebound from Reed Broadhurst's initial chance.

The Beavers carried the play from that point on and soon earned another power-play opportunity. This time, Beaver captain Dereck Hurley stepped up to give Blind River the lead as he combined with Maurice Whiteduck to beat Bilodeau for the go-ahead goal.

Playing with the lead for the first time this season, the Beavers showed no signs of nerves and continued to push forward. In the deciding third period, they out-shot the Eskimos by a margin of 17-5 and almost added to their advantage on several occasions.

The victory leaves Blind River with a record of one win and three losses, good for two points and third place in the western division of the NOJHL. The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Eagles lead the division with six points, followed by the Soo Thunderbirds with four points.

The Sudbury Cubs lead the eastern division with eight points, followed by the North Bay Trappers with six points and Abitibi with four. The expansion Kirkland Lake Blue Devils are still looking for their first points of the season.

The league-leading Sudbury Cubs gave the youthful Blind River squad a lesson on Saturday, as the talented Nickel City squad scored five power-play goals en route to an 8-0 shutout victory. Jeremy Pominville turned aside 35 shots to earn the shutout for the Cubs, but only a handful of the shots were of the dangerous variety.

The Beavers played the Cubs on even terms until late in the first period, when they ran into a string of penalties. Sudbury capitalized on their manpower advantage to strike for three power-play goals in the last three minutes of the frame to effectively put the game out of reach for the offensively challenged Blind River shooters.

Joel Gagnon got the ball rolling for the Cubs with just three minutes left in the opening frame, as he finished off a pretty passing play with Joshua Blacksmith and former Beaver captain Drew MacMillan. Jordan Carroll made it 2-0 94 seconds later, and Blacksmith ran the count to 3-0 for Sudbury before the first intermission.

Darcy Haines scored the first of his three goals just 25 seconds into the second period, and it appeared that the Cubs could score at will against the overwhelmed Blind River defenders. With good goaltending from Ryan MacDonald, however, the Beavers were able to hang in the contest and surrendered only a goal by Nick Esposto during the remainder of the period.

To their credit, the Beavers put forth a spirited effort in the early portion of the third period and generated a number of good scoring chances. Lack of finishing touch and solid goaltending by Pominville proved to be their demise, however, and the Cubs clicked for three goals late in the frame to finish the 8-0 drubbing.

Haines potted two more markers in the third period to complete his hat-trick, while MacMillan celebrated his return home with a goal to cap off a four-point performance. For the night, the Cubs out-shot the Beavers 55-35.

The Beavers travel to Sault Ste. Marie on Wednesday evening to tangle with the Thunderbirds. They return to the Blind River Community Centre on Friday night for their first match-up with the expansion squad from Kirkland Lake.

The game against the Blue Devils is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.

Wednesday, September 14

Major opportunity

It would be tough to top the enthusiasm rookie defenceman Andrew Tessier brings to the ice for the Kingston Frontenacs.

A native of Blind River, Tessier eagerly reported to the Frontenacs after general manager Doug Gilmour made him a free-agent offer this summer.

"I was just pumped to come here and do my best. It was a huge opportunity for me," Tessier said.

The 6-foot-1, 203-pound right-shot defenceman played last season for the Blind River Beavers in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.

Despite what he felt was a decent season for a 16-year-old up against older players, Tessier got no interest from Ontario Hockey League scouts. He did not make it on the OHL minor midget supplementary draft list (as an older major midget) last May.

However, things did start to happen for Tessier when he played for a prospects team in the spring. He played tournaments in Kingston and Toronto.

"It was the 'Q' (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) who noticed me first," Tessier said.

"Four teams offered me spots. I'd never had that attention before and I was super excited."

Tessier had pretty well decided on the Quebec league before his Management One agency got him looked at by the Oshawa Generals, too.

Although the Generals showed interest and talked to Tessier, there was no commitment from the OHL team. Tessier was prepared to head to Quebec until his mother, Lisa, fielded a phone call from Kingston.

"I came back from playing tennis with my dad (Mike) and my mom told me I couldn't come into the house right then," Tessier said.

"I didn't know what was the matter. Then she came out and she was all teary eyed, she was so happy for me. She told me Doug Gilmour had just offered me a spot to play on the Kingston Frontenacs."

Gilmour had checked with Tessier's agency, which also had Frontenacs draft pick Ryan Hutchinson as a client. Gilmour won the race to sign Tessier ahead of the Quebec league teams.

"I always wanted to play in the 'O'," said Tessier, who felt his decision to play junior A in the northern league made the difference.

"A lot of my friends went back to midget. I decided I had to do whatever it takes to keep going up. I didn't care if I was in junior and had to sit on the bench for the first half. I was willing to do that."

Coach Todd Gill said finding a free agent like Tessier, with his size and skating ability, is a big plus for the hockey club.

"I think he's got a bright future. He wants to learn and he's ambitious," said Gill, whose team plays its pre-season finale on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against the Ottawa 67's at the K-Rock Centre.

"But there's a kid that's been all offence his whole lifetime. He never really has been taught how to play in his own end.

"Everything is not an offensive rush. You've got to know when to go and when not to go."

Gill is working with his young defencemen -- Tessier, Hutchinson, Braydon Blight, Warren Steele and sophomore Alex Gudbranson -- on that critical aspect of playing defence.

"You have to get these guys to the point where you trust them on the ice," Gill said.

"You just don't want to be a power-play (defenceman). So that's what we are going to strive for with (Tessier)."

For his part, Tessier is taking in all the information.

"Just in the short time I've been here I've learned more than I ever thought I could about hockey," Tessier said.

"All the systems and the games are obviously a big change. Guys are a lot faster and bigger.

"Once I get used to the speed, the plays should start happening easier."

Gill said the acquisition of Michael Moffat from the London Knights means the 18-year-old defenceman, who has a season of experience in the OHL, can act as a mentor, along with Jeff Braithwaite, 19.

"Those guys, not only are we expecting a lot from them, we are expecting them to talk to these kids and help them along the way," Gill said.

"Sometimes it comes a little easier coming from a teammate than it does a coach. They have been doing that."

Gill said the one position that remains undecided going into Wednesday's final exhibition game is the backup goalie to Igor Bobkov, the team's overage net-minder who is at the NHL rookie camp of the Anaheim Ducks.

Blake Richard and Craig Wood, both 17, each played a game over the weekend. Both gave up six goals and in management's view, it is a stalemate between the two.

"Right now nobody has shown me that they are better than the other," Gill said.

"They will each get half a game (against the Ottawa 67's) and then we've got some tough decisions."

Wednesday, September 14

Beavers off to slow start in new NOJHL season


The Standard

The Blind River Beavers have plenty of work to do if they expect to contend for the title in the 50th anniversary season of the Northern Ontario Junior 'A' Hockey League.

The Beavers staggered out of the gate in their debut weekend for the 2011-2012 season, dropping a pair of games to their western division NOJHL rivals. They were thumped 13-2 by the defending champion Eagles in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on Saturday, and then dropped a 6-1 decision to the Sault Ste. Marie Thunderbirds in their home opener on Sunday.

Playing before a raucous crowd at historic Pullar Stadium on Saturday, the Eagles celebrated the unveiling of their NOJHL championship banner in style by peppering Beaver goaltenders with 72 shots in their dominating victory. After a tight first period, the Eagles exploded for nine straight goals in the second period to grab a 10-0 lead.

Gavin Burbach scored the only goal of the opening period to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. Michael Orosey made it 2-0 early in the second stanza, and the Eagles put the game away by lighting the lamp eight times in just 5:57 of playing time in the last half of the frame.

Shane Totten recorded a hat trick for the Eagles, while Burbach and Matthew Wiggemansen each tallied twice. Connor Lyons, Brock Raffaele, Cole Hrysky, AJ Kapcheck and Travis Payne added single markers for the defending champs.

David McCaig celebrated his return to the Beavers by recording the team's first goal of the season late in the second period. Newcomer Craig Tomassi scored the other goal for Blind River in the third period.

The Beavers looked much more competitive against the Thunderbirds in the friendly confines of the Blind River Community Centre the following evening. The home squad played the T-Birds to a standstill in the early going, only to be undone by penalty troubles late in the first period.

While the Beavers played short-handed, the Thunderbirds capitalized for a pair of power-play goals by Kurt Barberie to take a 2-0 lead before the first intermission. The Beavers tightened the lead to 2-1 early in the second period, as Connor Cassavia scored on a screened shot from Maurice Whiteduck and Tyson MacLeod.

The teams battled on even terms for most of the period, until former Beaver Corey Jackson put the T-Birds up 3-1 with a hard shot from the left wing that beat Blind River goalie Ryan MacDonald. Another former Beaver, Greg Sartoretto, made it 4-1 before the second period ended, as he potted the rebound of Dylan Connely's shot.

Though the Beavers battled hard to get back into the game in the third period, the T-Birds were too solid defensively and scored the only two markers of the frame. Derek Battinger made it 5-1 with a breakaway goal with just under eight minutes to play, and Sartoretto ended the scoring with his second goal of the night just two minutes before the end of regulation time.

After the opening weekend of the NOJHL season, the Eagles lead the three-team western division with four points, followed by the Thunderbirds with two points. The Beavers have yet to record their first points of the season.

In the eastern division, the North Bay Trappers lead the way with four points, while the Abitibi Eskimos and Sudbury Cubs are tied for second with two points each. The expansion Kirkland Lake Blue Devils have gone pointless so far in their rookie campaign.

The Beavers will attempt to break into the win column this weekend as they host a pair of home games at the Blind River Community Centre. On Saturday, the Beavers take on the Sudbury Cubs at 7:30 p.m., while on Sunday the Beavers tangle with the Abitibi Eskimos at 2 p.m.

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 Beavers Sign Local Player

The Blind River Beavers are proud to announce that they have signed Tyson MacLeod for the 2011/12 season. Making his NOJHL rookie debut, MacLeod is a well-known product of the Blind River Minor Hockey Association and a local fan favourite.

Last season Macleod played junior hockey in Elliot Lake where he had an impressive rookie season with the GMHL league champion Bob Cats. In 42 games the 6’1”, 185 lb. forward scored 18 goals and added 21 assists. MacLeod is looking forward to moving to the NOJHL this season to continue developing at the next level.

The Beavers believe that the size and skill of the 17 year old will have an immediate impact and be a cornerstone for the organization.

Some may recognize the MacLeod name from past seasons of the Beaver’s roster. Forward Nathan MacLeod, who finished his Junior A career with the team, is now attending Cambrian College in Sudbury. Tyson and Nathan are cousins.

The Beavers have been busy scouting for this season and are also proud to announce that they have signed Paul Muio from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Muio, a 6’ 1”, 180 lb forward, scored 59 points with the Algoma Avalanche last season and he also looks forward to playing for the Beavers.

The Blind River Beavers have proven to be an organization that helps its players develop and move on in their hockey careers, be it at the collegiate level or major junior hockey. In the past two consecutive seasons the Beavers have helped undrafted players Brett Findlay (Sault) and Andrew Tessier (Blind River) improve and move to the OHL. Both players played just one season with the Beavers in the NOJHL. Findlay currently plays with the Soo Greyhounds and Tessier has signed with the Kingston Frontenac’s for the 2011/12 season.

The Beavers organization understands the importance of signing local players.

Friday, July 8

Andrew Tessier scores deal to play with Kingston Frontenacs

The Standard

If perseverance, hard work and talent are the formula for success, 17-year-old Blind River native Andrew Tessier is on the fast track to making his hockey dreams come true.

Tessier, a rookie defenceman for the Blind River Beavers last season, has been signed as a free agent by the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He will compete in the top Junior hockey league in the world this season, with an eye toward being drafted into the Nation Hockey League (NHL) at the end of next season.

"It's a big step for me, but I'm comfortable with my ability to compete at this level," the rugged six-foot 0ne-inch, 200-pound blueliner states. "I'm going to work hard all summer to put on 10 more pounds of muscle and sharpen my skills before training camp, so that I'll have an opportunity to fight for ice time with the Frontenacs."

The signing of Tessier by the Frontenacs marks the second consecutive year that a member of the Beavers has graduated to the OHL. Former Beaver Brett Findlay made an immediate impact with the Soo Greyhounds last season, and Tessier is hoping for similar success with Kingston this year.

It has not been an easy road for Tessier to land a spot in the OHL. His story shows the value of persevering through difficult situations and remaining steadfast in the face of adversity.

After playing with his boyhood friends in the Blind River Minor Hockey Association until the age of 10, Tessier moved with his parents, Mike and Lisa, to Walden in 2003. The move followed Mike's promotion within the Ontario Provincial Police, but also allowed Andrew to play "rep" hockey with other promising youngsters against the best competition.

Andrew advanced to play Midget hockey with the Nickel City Sons in the Great North Midget Hockey League, but was disappointed when he was overlooked in the 2010 OHL draft.

"I was only five-foot nine inches and 170 pounds at that point, and I had been injured for part of the season," Tessier explains, "but it still stung that I wasn't drafted."

Not willing to give up, the Tessiers hooked up with agent David Maciuk, who saw the potential in the still-growing Andrew. During the summer, Andrew gained four inches in height and 20 pounds of muscle, which suddenly made him an attractive prospect for teams in southern Ontario.

"I had offers to play for teams in Collingwood and Toronto, as well as to come back for another season of Midget hockey," Andrew reveals.

However, his agent and parents stressed the importance of playing against top competition while remaining close to home, which led to him contacting Beavers' management for a tryout.

While the Beavers' staff knew of Andrew, they weren't expecting the strapping young man with rapidly developing skills who joined their camp last August. He was quickly signed to play for his former hometown team, and his family moved back to Blind River to make the transition to Junior hockey easier.

"I decided to keep my play very simple in the early part of the year," Andrew recalls, "in order to earn the trust of coach (Jim) Capy."

By the end of the season, Tessier had indeed earned that trust, as the rookie took his place with older teammates among the top four defencemen on the Beavers in the NOJHL playoffs and on the first penalty-killing unit.

"In Midget hockey you can get by on skill alone, but in Junior you learn to think quickly and work with your teammates much more effectively.

"Playing with and against bigger, faster and older players with the Beavers, as well as listening and learning from great coaches, gave me a big advantage over other kids my age."

The season with the Beavers paid huge dividends for Tessier during two prospect tournaments that he participated in during this spring. He was a dominant force with both his scoring touch and physical play during a tournament in Kingston, and continued to turn the eyes of Major Junior scouts with his performance in a tourney in Toronto.

By the time the prospect tournaments were done, Andrew had received offers to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Drummondville, Shawinigan and the Montreal Juniors.

"I looked like I was going to play in the 'Q,' but suddenly the OHL teams finally started to show some interest in me."

Tessier's agent had been in contact with Kingston general manager (and former NHL great) Doug Gilmour, who was interested in Andrew, but wanted to perform due diligence on the young prospect. Gilmour received glowing reports from former teammate Paul Gagne (coach of the NOJHL's Abitibi Eskimos) and Capy, and finally made the step of contacting the Tessier family.

"My mom got a call one day and passed me the phone saying it was Doug Gilmour," laughs Andrew, recalling his first conversation with the hockey icon. "I was in awe and I probably don't recall a lot of what he said, but I know he wanted me to sign with his team."

To prepare for his shot at the big time, Andrew has taken what he calls the perfect summer job. He will be on the ice for six hours per day throughout the summer as a shooter at the high performance RHP training centre in Sudbury. In addition, he will work with a personal trainer, along with several other OHL and NHL players, in hopes of adding more strength, speed and endurance before camp.

"There are no guarantees, but they've told me that I'll have a chance to compete for ice time."

He is looking forward to playing for Gilmour, along with Kingston head coach Todd Gill, another Toronto alumnus who played more than 1,000 games on defence in the NHL.

"I'm going to work hard and listen to the coaches, and then just play hockey. We will have a young team in Kingston this year, so I will have my chance to make an impact."

Throughout the long road to the OHL, Andrew's parents have stood firm in their belief that their son is on the right track.

"We're very proud that he's persevered and battled through the adversity that he's faced in order to get this far," his father states. "I know that he'll continue to work hard to try to take advantage of the opportunity that he's earned."

With his NHL draft year upcoming, Andrew remains committed to achieving his ultimate goal.

"I can have an impact with Kingston this year, and then who knows what can happen after that," he notes.