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Cubs and Beavers matchup in a battle of the top two

The Greater Sudbury Cubs not only advanced to the second round of the NOJHL (Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League) playoffs - they did so in style.

Deadlocked at two games apiece in the first round set with the Soo Thunderbirds and returning home to the friendly confines of the Gerry McCrory Sports Complex last week, the Cubs would post back to back shutouts in games five and six, eliminating the team that knocked them to the sidelines one year earlier.

The balanced attack that has been key to Sudbury success throughout 2023-2024 was apparent again last Thursday as Hudson Chitaroni, Ryan Rubic, Nolan Newton and Ben Harris scored in support of a 17-save effort from Noah Metivier, the Cubs keeping the visitors off the SOG tally for minutes at a time.

Sensing their opponents on the ropes, the local NOJHLers quickly took the game away from the T-Birds Saturday night in the Soo as Newton and Chitaroni both converted on the power play in the opening frame.

With Metivier again standing tall, especially during the initial two frames in his hometown, the Cubs pretty much sealed the deal in the middle stanza as Samuel Assinewai and Newton doubled their advantage, bringing things home with a solid defensive effort in the third.

For the record, the last goal that Metivier surrendered came late in game four, his current streak of shutout hockey sitting at 121:53.

He and his teammates will carry that confidence into a West Divisional final matchup with a Blind River Beavers team that overcame a 3-1 series deficit to the Espanola Paper Kings, sweeping the final three games for the come-from-behind victory.

The Beavers finished just two points ahead of the Cubs in regular season standings, though Blind River did hold the upper hand in the four head to head matchups.

Each team recorded a 6-3 home ice win in November-December before Blind River blanked Sudbury 5-0 at home on February 17th, following that up with a 4-3 road win just five days later when defenceman Andrey Manov snapped a 3-3 tie with a power play goal with just over two minutes to play.

The upcoming matchup opens in Blind River with games on Thursday (April 4th) and Saturday (April 6th), returning to the Nickel City early next week for games three (Monday April 8th) and four (Tuesday April 9th).

From there - and most expect it to go six or seven - the series would continue in Blind River (Thursday April 11th), Sudbury (Sunday April 14th), with one last stop in the Milltown, if necessary (Tuesday April 16th).

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