Photos: Northern Lights Photography
HEARST, Ont. – The Hearst Lumberjacks used a four-goal, first period barrage to send them on their way to a ninth straight Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League triumph, a 7-2 decision over the Cochrane Crunch Sunday, at Claude Larose Recreation Centre.
It took the home side just under four minutes to start on their way to victory as Jett Mintenko scored for the third-time in two games as he whipped a shot over the glove of Crunch netminder Marcus Ouellet.
Bryaden Pafli then put the Lumberjacks up by a pair midway through the opening frame when Brayden Palfi guided in a feed in front by Zachary Demers, who ran a point streak to seven in the process.
The highly-touted Hearst power play then went to work deep in the frame as some crisp puck-movement let Tyler Bortkiewicz bury his initial NOJHL goal with a sharp wrist shot from the right of Ouellet.
Picking up the primary assist on the play was Mathieu Comeau, who now has collected points in each of the past 10 games he has appeared in.
Capping off the outburst, in the stanza, Brandan Tronchin clicked at 18:23 by chipping in his own rebound.
It was more of the same in the second as Hearst went up by five on an Emile Pichette tally as he fired a high shot from the slot, blocker side, after being set-up by Demers.
Cochrane got themselves on the board early in the third as Mathieu Roy sped down the left wing and sizzled a shot by Lumberjacks’ goalkeeper Kaleb Papineau from the circle to give him markers in back-to-back outings.
Getting that back, while up a skater midway through the stanza, Tyler Patterson kicked up a Palfi feed with his skate and tucked one by Ouellet for his 17th of the season.
Demers than helped cap-off the result by darting down the left-wing, side-stepping a Crunch defender before wiring one into the right-hand corner at 12:10 to give him 125 points in his NOJHL career.
The guests then wrapped up the scoring in the late going on a play that saw Blake Menard fire one on net and saw Roy bury the rebound from close range for his second of the contest.
With the final in the result, it moves Hearst’s record to 26-7-2-0 on the season, heading into a first-place East Division showdown with the 24-5-3-2 Timmins Rock Tuesday evening in a 7 p.m. start at McIntyre Arena and on HockeyTV.com.