Photos: Marc-André Longval
HEARST, Ont. – The Hearst Lumberjacks broke open a third period tie with three unanswered markers to pull out a 5-2 triumph over the Cochrane Crunch in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Wednesday evening at Claude Larose Recreation Centre.
After a scoreless first frame, Hearst headed to the power play to begin the second session and were rewarded with Robbie Rutledge tapping in a loose puck off a goal-mouth scramble to put the home team on top.
Countering with a shorthanded effort, a Lumberjacks pass back to the point clipped off a defender’s stick and allowed Cochrane’s Liam Boswell to go in alone where he made a deke to his right and slid a backhand into the open side past the outstretched pad of netminder Liam Oxner.
Late in the period, the hosts went back on top just as a penalty had expired with blueliner Jaden Raad picking the corner with a shot from the top of the left circle.
Answering quickly, the Crunch drew level on the next shift off an attempt from the right point that bounced off a number of bodies and right to Boswell who stuffed in his second of the stanza.
Going in front for a third time, Hearst’s Mathieu Comeau connected at 1:46 of the third as he had a couple of chances from the left of Cochrane goalkeeper Michael Nickolau before collecting his eighth on the year.
Getting some insurance with just over eight minutes to go, Mason Bazaluk picked up his third overall as he banged in a loose puck that bounced his way after Dylan Ford rang one off the post moments after a two-man advantage had been handled by the Crunch.
Then with a late power play and Nickolau out for an extra skater, the visitors tried to get closer, but first-year Hearst forward Cody Walker picked up a shot block then spun deep in his own zone and sent one the length of the ice into the empty for his first NOJHL goal to secure the victory.
Oxner made 21 stops to pick up the win while Nickolau was busy seeing 49 attempts put his way in defeat.