ESPANOLA, Ont. – A goal-filled night saw 16 scored in total as the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners skated past the Espanola Express 9-7 Friday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League meeting at the Regional Recreation Complex.
The match-up also featured Joelle Ouelette making her NOJHL debut, in becoming just the second female linesperson to officiate a regular season contest in the league.
The two sides needed little time to both score as it was 1-1 before five minutes had elapsed on the game clock.
Ty McHutchion got the Express on track with his team-leading 17th of the season as he took a feed and slid a low attempt under Gold Miners’ netminder Keaton Lyons 47 seconds into the proceedings, to give him points in three straight.
Countering, via the power play, Kirkland Lake drew level at 4:45, thanks to defenceman Lucas Renzoni sliding in the back door and snapping a shot high on Espanola’s Matthew Loney.
Picking up an early man advantage in the middle session, Espanola went back in front when Yan Bessette banged in a rebound from in close off a McHutchion shot.
A free-wheeling start to the period saw four more goals scored before the stanza hit the four-minute mark.
Chance DeBolt and Eric de Repentigny had markers for the Gold Miners while Adam Shillinglaw and McHutchion countered for the Express to make it 4-3 Espanola with still plenty of game left to be played.
Not done there, a sixth marker was notched, in just a span of five and a half minutes, that saw the guests level the proceedings as DeBolt blocked a shot and went in alone on a breakaway where he went upstairs on goalkeeper Patrick Boivin to continue the goal-fest.
The offensive barrage continued with a seventh and eighth tally in under 14 minutes thanks to Kirkland Lake’s Cameron Marcoux and Bessette’s second prior to the teams hitting the intermission knotted at 5-5.
Striking a minute into the third, the Gold Miners’ Alex McDonald finished off a frantic play in front as he blasted one in from close range, for his eighth of the year, while Express netminder Vaughan LeDrew, who had entered to replace Boivin, scrambled to try and get back into position.
After Todd McBain of Espanola tied things up once more, Kirkland Lake tacked on two of their own to help secure the road victory.
John-Paul Scaringi made it 7-5 as he finished off a odd-man rush by burying one from the slot while teammate Ryan Evenhuis connected 50 seconds later as he made a couple of nifty moves in the Espanola zone and darted to the middle prior to whipping in his 10th from between the hash marks.
After Bessette finished off a hat trick at 16:19 by firing one in from the slot, Marcoux rounded out the scoring as he fooled LeDrew with a wrister while going against four Express skaters.
The 16 combined goals in the contest were the most in a NOJHL game since back on January 7, 2020, when the Powassan Voodoos and Gold Miners racked up 17 in an 11-6 Voodoos’ victory.