Elliot Lake, Sault Ste. Marie and Espanola begin 2014 play with victories


Release Date: Friday, Jan. 3, 2014

Elliot Lake, Sault Ste. Marie and Espanola begin 2014 play with victories

SUDBURY – The 2014 portion of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season commenced Friday evening with the Elliot Lake Bobcats, Soo Thunderbirds and Espanola Rivermen all coming away victorious.

ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS 7 BLIND RIVER BEAVERS 1 – A three-goal performance by Brett Wagner helped Elliot Lake kick off 2014 on a positive note as they blasted Blind River at Centennial Arena.

The Bobcats jumped out to a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes on a pair of tallies by Wagner and a solo effort by Jacob Erwin.

The home side extended their cushion to four after 40 minutes as Wagner finished off his hat-trick 4:45 into the middle stanza, which also spelled the end of Beavers’ starter Dylan Knox’s night.

After a Brad Holman shorthanded effort made it 5-0 three and a half minutes into the final frame, Matt Zalewski dashed the shutout bid of Alex Bitsakis with 8:56 to go.

Elliot Lake finished things off with late markers courtesy of Erwin and Bryan MacFarlane to round out the scoring.

Bitsakis finished with 31 saves to pick up the victory with Knox allowing four goals on 17 attempts and Jessie Miron turning aside 30 of 33 in relief.

SOO THUNDERBIRDS 1 KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS 0 – The league-leading Thunderbirds rode the shutout goaltending of Joel Horodziejczyk to win their 13th consecutive game as they pulled out the narrow road triumph over the second place Gold Miners.

A Tyler Jones tally 12:20 into the opening period proved to be the only goal of the night with Horodziejczyk doing the rest kicking out all 27 shots he faced to register his NOJHL-best third shutout of the season and win his 17th straight start for the T-Birds.

Jeremy Pominville stopped 21 of the 22 pucks he faced in the hard luck loss for Kirkland Lake who were blanked for the first time this season. The last time the Gold Miners were held off the score sheet in a game was back on Dec. 1, 2012 when they fell 5-0 in Blind River.

ESPANOLA RIVERMEN 4 NORTH BAY TRAPPERS 2 – Espanola struck three times in the third period en route to doubling up the visiting Trappers at the Regional Recreation Complex.

The Rivermen grabbed a 1-0 lead after the opening session thanks to a Brandon Janke effort.

North Bay’s Eric Champagne tied it with the lone goal of the middle frame midway through the contest.

After Cray Roberge put Espanola up 2-1 nearly eight minutes into the final period, Connor Gilmartin notched the eventual game-winner 24 seconds later. Earning assists on the play were Janke and Brennen Dubchak with the latter extending a current NOJHL-best consecutive game point streak to 17 straight contests.

Chance Thomas then pulled North Bay closer moments later, but Corbin Bean iced it adding an insurance marker in the late going to conclude the scoring. Janke also set-up that marker to finish off a three-point night.

Marc Terriault made 22 stops to record the win for Espanola while Evan Cormier face 35 attempts in a losing cause for North Bay.