Cochrane forces deciding game with Kirkland Lake

KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – Led by a two-goal, one-assist performance from their captain Hunter Buzzi, the Cochrane Crunch kept their season alive Friday as they went on to defeat the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 6-4 in Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division quarter-final series at Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.

This means their best-of-three affair is now tied 1-1 and will need a third and deciding game Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m., at the Tim Horton Events Centre in Cochrane, to decide a winner.

Buzzi put the visitors on the board first on the evening before Nicholas Wagner tied it for Kirkland Lake just past the midway mark of the opening frame.

The Crunch got that back though the session was complete on a Nicholas Grandy effort at 13:12.

Moving to the second stanza, Buzzi buried his second of the night during a power play while teammate Ryan Hunter made it 4-1 with an even-strength tally at 12:31.

Patrick Murphy did respond for the Gold Miners late in the period to get the hosts back to within two after two.

Up a skater in the third, Kirkland Lake connected on the man advantage thanks to Cameron Neaylon to make it 4-3 with over 11 minutes left in regulation.

However, Cochrane scored twice in a 29-second span to help put the game away as Jordan Fielding and Owen Perala converted in rapid succession.

Connor Van Weelie answered for Kirkland Lake in the late going, but it turned out to be the final goal of the night as the Crunch secured the victory and force Game 3 Sunday.

Shots on net were recorded as 26-24 in favour of the Gold Miners with Zach Wickson getting the win while Kohl Reddy suffered the defeat.

East Division quarter-final series
No. 4 Cochrane Crunch vs. No. 5 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Best-of-three series tied 1-1
Game 1: Gold Miners 4 Crunch 3 (OT)
Game 2: Friday, March 6 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 3: Sunday, March 8 @ Cochrane 4 p.m. (Tim Horton Events Centre)