Photos: Allyson Demers
KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – A Brayden Palfi wrap-around shorthanded tally, three minutes into overtime, was the difference as the Hearst Lumberjacks pulled out a narrow 4-3 victory over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in a tightly-contested Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up Saturday at Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
Notching the night’s opening tally late in the first period, the Gold Miners’ Benjamin Armatage picked off a Hearst clearing attempt just inside the blueline, then fed Taye Ladislao with a back-hand in the slot where he quickly whipped it past Lumberjacks’ netminder Matteo Gennaro at 18:11.
Moving to the middle stanza, the visitors drew level in the back half of the session as Emile Pichette found Riley Klugerman between the hash marks where he buried his league-leading 11th goal of the season, while extending a consecutive game point streak to eight in the process.
Not done there, Hearst went in front a couple of shifts later as they broke out of their own zone and saw Mason Svarich dash down the ice, where he split the Kirkland Lake defence, then cut to his left and slid in the go-ahead marker past the pad of goalkeeper Braydon Garnhart at 14:01.
Netting the equalizer before the second intermission, Ladislao scored again as he deftly deflected a Christian Genova attempt from the point that dipped down and skipped by an outstretched Gennaro.
Boasting the top power play success rate in the NOJHL, the Lumberjacks converted again via the man advantage when Klugerman set-up Pichette between the circles and saw him snap a shot into the bottom right corner 6:37 into the third.
A big blocker save by Garnhart on a Svarich breakaway with half a period to play kept the hosts within one heading down the stretch.
Collecting a hat trick with 58 seconds remaining in regulation, Ladislao drove hard down the right wing and from a sharp angle ripped a shot over Gennaro’s shoulder to knot the affair and send it to extra time.
Down a skater in OT, Hearst converted on a dump in as the Miners had some miscommunication behind the net, which allowed Palfi to swoop in and wrap-in the game-winner to give the guests the win.
With the outcome, the NOJHL-East leading Lumberjacks raised their record to 9-4-0-0 and saw Kirkland Lake drop to 1-9-2-0 on the year.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel