Espanola surprises Soo Eagles

ESPANOLA, Ont. – For a second straight night the Espanola Express gave the Soo Eagles all they could handle as they skated to a hard-fought 5-3 decision Saturday in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action at the Regional Recreation Complex.

After falling to the Eagles by a similar score Friday on the road, the Express turned the tables on their opponents to earn the victory.

An early man advantage opportunity allowed Espanola to get going offensively as Jarod Hurley finished off assists from Tyler Bourassa and Andre Frappier.

The Express carried that into the second stanza where they went up by two thanks to Logan Fennema notched his 12th overall at 1:20 during another power play chance.

Sault Ste. Marie started a comeback three minutes later with Christian Bardarson notching his NOJHL-best 40th goal of the season while his side was up a man.

Nick Techel drew one of the helpers on the play to help him run a point streak to 13 straight games.

However, Espanola got that back a couple shifts later with Hurley adding his second of the night to restore their two-goal cushion.

It was more Express later in the period with Matthew Reynolds’ sixth of the year putting them up 4-1 after 40 minutes.

Battling back in the third, the Soo moved to within two at 10:52 thanks to Gianni Vialli then made it a one-goal game with 4:44 left in regulation with Jacob Palmerio scoring for the Eagles on a power play.

Continuing to press in an effort to notch the equalizer, the visitors pulled netminder Carter McPhail, but Mackenzie MacMillan iced it for Espanola with an empty netter with 23 seconds to go to secure the long-awaited win.

Henry Laukkanen and Frappier chipped in with two assists apiece for the Express.

Adam Scott was tested 40 times for Espanola in registering the victory while McPhail faced 44 shots in a losing cause for the Soo.