Photos: Allyson Demers
KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – A goal-filled Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up Sunday afternoon saw the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners outlast the French River Rapids 7-5 at Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
After handling an early Gold Miners’ man advantage, the Rapids countered with an even strength effort nearly four minutes into the contest when Dominic Bzdyl picked up a clearing attempt and whipped it past
Braydon Garnhart in the Kirkland Lake net while driving out of the right circle for his first NOJHL tally.
Tying it up at 13:13, Jesse Dupuis collected his team-leading seventh marker of the campaign as he collected an Inde Abresch backhand attempt and proceeded to tuck it past the pad of French River goalkeeper Brady Dyer. This also saw him score for a fourth game in a row.
Coming back to retake the lead before the intermission, Cameron Jansa put the visitors back on top by ripping a shot into the top left corner, from the slot, after corralling a Gavin Haslam chance to give him goals in five consecutive contests.
Moving to the middle frame, the Gold Miners drew level just past the half-way point when Bruce Grey put one in from the left side while Dyer was dealing with a player jammed in his crease.
Kirkland Lake then took the lead at 13:25 thanks to Noah Woodard, as he worked his way free out of a scrum along the side boards, then skated in and lifted in a short-side backhand to provide him with points in six straight.
Heading to the third, the Gold Miners went up by a pair nearly five minutes in after controlling a draw, which led to defenceman Cole Ellis hammering a shot home from the top of the left circle.
The Kirkland Lake power play then went to work a couple of shifts later and saw Woodard notch another as he took his time, then wired a shot through a partial screen and by a blocked off Dyer.
Grey then scored once more after being left with a tap-in off a play into the paint from Benjamin Armatage, to make it 6-2.
Battling back, the Rapids tacked on two of their own, in quick succession, to move to within two, with under eight minutes remaining.
Haslim picked up his opening marker in the NOJHL by snapping one in with the teams skating four aside.
A couple of shifts later, Brandon Melsness clicked on a man advantage as he finished off a goal-mouth scramble.
French River then pulled Dyer and picked up a power play late to have two additional skaters in an effort to move closer.
It helped them make it 6-5 as Melsness scored once more as he wired a shot over the blocker of Garnhart with just over a minute remaining.
Getting their goalie out again, to try and force overtime, the visitors pressed for an equalizer, only to see Dupuis seal the outcome with an empty netter.
With the result, the Gold Miners raised their record to 3-2-1-1, while in defeat, the Rapids fell to 1-7-0-0.
The league will now gear up for its annual NOJHL Showcase, which goes Tuesday and Wednesday at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex in Sudbury, that will see all 12 league teams in action, with six contests on tap, per day.
Every game can be viewed online at FLOHockey.tv.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel