ESPANOLA, Ont. – The Espanola Express picked up three-goal games from both Eric Barnard and Todd McBain to help them pull out an 8-4 victory over the Greater Sudbury Cubs in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest Sunday afternoon at the Regional Recreation Complex.
Notching the day’s initial tally was Greater Sudbury’s Kyler Campbell, who skated down the left wing and whistled one into the top left corner past Espanola netminder Dylan Kosik at 7:45 of the first period, for his team-leading 28th goal of the campaign.
Coming back with the equalizer just over four minutes later was Barnard of the Express, who collected his 10th of the year, as he took a centring pass from Yan Bessette and snapped it over the glove of Cubs’ goalkeeper Jake Marois.
Down a skater a couple of shifts later, the home side took the lead when McBain struck shorthanded as he took a Bessette feed and darted down the right wing where he buried one from the circle to make it 2-1.
Still on the power play though, the visitors tied it once more when Cameron Walker moved in from the left point and wristed one in.
Moving to the middle stanza, Espanola’s Barnard would strike twice just over a minute apart to register his first NOJHL hat trick and put his side up 4-2 with half a game to play.
His second of the contest came off a soft back hand feed from Benjamin Lacroix that allowed him to move in and roof a shot on Marois from the left wing.
Barnard then bagged his third of the day as he connected from a similar spot on the ice with a quick wrister from the left circle that eluded Joel Rainville, who entered the net for Greater Sudbury after the third Express marker.
Getting one back before the second intermission, the Cubs’ Pierson Sobush tallied for a third time in two games to reach the 20-goal plateau after taking a back pass from Mathieu Morin and chipping it over the blocker of Kosik.
In the third, Espanola put the game away getting back-to-back tallies from McBain to give him his initial three-goal outing in league play.
He started by slamming in a cross-crease feed then hit the trifecta midway through the period by chipping in a back hand off a goal-mouth scramble.
The Express kept rolling as saw Derwin Hauser finish off a Kobe Braham rush, who won a race down the ice for the loose puck, for his first NOJHL goal, which came at 13:12.
Walker did score once more for the Cubs by flying down the ice on a partial break and tucking one through the legs of Matthew Loney, who had entered the game earlier in relief.
Jack Thor capped off the home ice triumph for Espanola by putting a second chance into an empty net and rounding out the afternoon’s scoring.