PHOTOS: Caleigh Fera – Sudbury Light Event Photography
SUDBURY, Ont. – A hard-fought fifth game of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Divisional semifinal saw the Greater Sudbury Cubs prevail with a 5-3 decision over the Espanola Paper Kings Thursday, in a match-up that went right to the wire before being finalized, with 700-plus spectators on hand at T.M. Davies Community Centre and Arena.
The outcome gives Greater Sudbury the best-of-seven series 4-1 and they’ll now move on to meet either the Soo Thunderbirds or Blind River Beavers in the West final.
Sault Ste. Marie leads that affair 3-1, with Game 5 going Friday in Blind River.
After missing out on a four-minute power play in the back half of the first period, Espanola connected just after it as Blake Peters-Davey went to the net and lifted a backhand by Greater Sudbury goalkeeper Noah Metivier at 18:24.
Moving to the middle stanza, the Cubs needed just 28 seconds to draw level when Cameron Shanks notched the equalizer.
The home side then went in front at the five-minute mark as they turned a play ahead in transition, which allowed Samuel Assinewai to cruise down the left wing and fire in a well-placed attempt for his first of the playoffs.
Coming back to tie it midway through the session, the Paper Kings’ Spencer Horgan capitalized off a turnover and whipped one in from the slot, after moving in from the point.
Retaking the lead in the final minute of the second, Nolan Newton’s chip ahead to Cole Crowder allowed him to split the Espanola defence and move in alone on netminder Jake Marois, then deposit a nifty backhand for initial postseason marker.
Taking a two-goal lead at 11:40 of the third, Graeme Siren sent a screen shot go from the point that found its way into the bottom right corner, through a maze of bodies jammed in front.
Pulling back to within one, Espanola clicked on a man advantage at 17:14, compliments of Benjamin Lacroix, as he took a nice cross-ice feed from Lucas Signoretti and roofed it.
Getting another late power play, and with their goalie out for an additional skater, the Paper Kings did everything but tie it to force overtime, including ringing a shot off the post, then seeing Metivier making a diving stop to keep the Cubs in front.
Greater Sudbury then wrapped it up in the last few seconds thanks to an empty netter from Kaden Laverdiere to close out the series.
NOJHL West Division semifinal
Greater Sudbury Cubs vs. Espanola Paper Kings
Game 1: Cubs 4 Paper Kings 2
Game 2: Cubs 5 Paper Kings 3
Game 3: Paper Kings 3 Cubs 1
Game 4: Cubs 2 Paper Kings 1
Game 5: Cubs 5 Paper Kings 3
Greater Sudbury wins best-of-seven series 4-1