SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – An Alex Freund marker, 14:36 into the third period, proved to be the game-winner as the Soo Eagles went on to outlast the Hearst Lumberjacks 7-5 Friday in a high-scoring Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair at Pullar Stadium.
Hearst notched the night’s initial marker, moments into a power play, as Tyler Bortkiewicz moved in on the right side and snapped a shot over the pad of Sault Ste. Marie starter Reid Ramsay.
The Eagles came back to tie it at 16:24 when Jack Paweski found himself alone in front and chipped an attempt by Lumberjacks’ netminder Kaleb Papineau.
They then took the lead late in the frame as Nolan Hendry spun in the right circle and put one off the stick of a defender and saw it change direction before it slid through the legs of Papineau.
Action in the second stanza saw the Soo go up by a pair as Chase Tallaire set-up Zachary Briskey dashing down the left wing there ripped one into the top right hand corner.
The Eagles power play then converted with Jack Mortson rifling one of the cross car and in as he moved in from the right of Papineau.
Hearst got one back half-way through the match-up when Mathieu Comeau forced a turnover at his on blueline then darted down the ice and fed Andrew Morton who lifted one over a sprawling Ramsay on the two-man break.
Paweski got that back though as he potted his second of the evening at 12:16 as a strange bounce off the end boards allowed him to slam the puck into the open corner.
Looking to make a game of it, the Lumberjacks scored twice in the first half of the session to make it 5-4.
Riley Klugerman’s 25th of the campaign came on a three-on-one as he elected to shoot from the right circle and fired his shot into the left corner.
Morton’s second of the evening, and 15th overall, made it a one-goal game at 9:07 as he found himself free and clicked from close range.
The Soo put themselves back up by a pair five minutes later thanks to Freund converting with a short side attempt on Papineau from the left circle.
Countering, Hearst came back on the next shift to pull closer once more when Comeau forced a turnover then buried a shot from the high slot with 4:29 to go.
In the end though, the Eagles held on as Mortson sent one into an empty net in the final moments to secure the victory with his team-leading 30th goal of the season.
The result snaps a nine-game winning streak for the Lumberjacks as they dropped to 40-12-2-0 and saw the Soo improve to 23-26-4-1.