Eagles hold off Express

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Christian Bardarson’s third goal of the game, coming with just 32 seconds remaining in regulation, broke a tie game as the Soo Eagles went on to edge a resilient Espanola Express squad 5-3 in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Friday night at Pullar Stadium.

After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Sault Ste. Marie got on the board first as Gianni Vitalli notched his seventh of the season four and a half minutes into the second period.

Battling back, a scrappy Express side tied it at 7:54 compliments of Logan Fennema.

Espanola then went up 2-1 half-way through the contest thanks to Jackson Heacock, who finished off the work of Henry Laukkanen and Henry Bourassa to give them a lead heading into the final frame.

Rebounding in the third, the Eagles saw Bardarson strike twice quickly to first tie it, then put his club in front.

He drew the Soo level at 5:10 during a power play, then added one at even strength 76 seconds later for his NOJHL-leading 38th goal of the season.

Heacock’s second of the night tied it for the Express at 16:37 only to see Bardarson finish off his third hat trick of the season with tally No. 39 in the final minute.

Alex Schwab then iced it with an empty netter moments before time expired to wrap things up.

Nick Techel had assists on all four of his club’s third period tallies to help him extend a point streak to 12 straight outings.

Shane Brancato faced 21 attempts in the Eagles net to pick-up the win while Adam Scott was blitzed with 72 shots against in the setback for the Express.