NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Friday, March 14, 2014
Home teams prevail in playoff openers
SUDBURY – The Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League postseason kicked off Friday on three fronts with each of the home sides, in the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, Espanola Rivermen and Abitibi Eskimos all coming away victorious.
KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS 3 NORTH BAY TRAPPERS 1 – A Luke Meade goal with 12 seconds remaining in the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners defeated the North Bay Trappers 3-1 in the series opener at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
Kirkland Lake carried the play the opening 20 minutes outshooting North Bay 17-2, but could not solve Trappers’ starter Evan Cormier.
The Gold Miners continued to press in the middle session and were rewarded with the night’s opening goal as Steven Babin darted out from behind the net and banked in the puck off Cormier at 6:02.
North Bay would pull even later in the session as Tyler Broderson stole the puck off of a Kirkland Lake defenceman and fed Anthony Postiglinoe was foiled by Jeremy Pominvile on his first attempt, but would not be denied on a second opportunity as he fired home the equalizer at 12:43.
Both teams traded chances the remainder of the stanza with the home side striking in the final moments of the period as defenceman Meade pinched in from the right ride and wired one high past Cormier.
It stayed that way until late in regulation when North Bay pulled their goaltender in favour of an extra attacker as they pressed for the equalizer and forced Pominville to make a couple of big saves to keep the Trappers from tying it.
Ryan Scherer then finished things off for the Miners as his clearing attempt sailed the length of the ice into the empty net to round out the scoring.
Kirkland Lake held a wide edge in shots on goal by a 45-18 count with Pominville picking up the victory and Cormier the suffering the defeat despite the solid start.
ESPANOLA RIVERMEN 6 SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS 3 – A quick start allowed the Rivermen to build a big lead early and never trail as they doubled up the Nickel Barons at the Regional Recreation Complex.
Espanola came out flying to begin the contest tallying three times midway through the first on markers by Byron Sam, Corbin Bean and Brad Edwards and chasing Sudbury’s Andrew Lefebvre in favour of Michael Muzyka.
Bean then greeted Muzyka with the Rivermen’s fourth marker of the stanza at 13:32 for the final goal of the first.
Special teams allowed the Nickel Barons to get on the board early in the second as Sudbury defenceman Khadyn Butterfly connected on the power play at 2:03.
Robert Smythe answered that for Espanola late in the period as he notched his first of the postseason to make it 5-1 after 40 minutes.
The Nickel Barons tried to get back into it early in the third as Jimmy Roy struck unassisted at the 46-second mark of the final frame.
Brandon Janke connected during a man advantage midway through the third to make it 6-2 before Austin Veleke wrapped up the scoring for Sudbury with a power play tally at 11:30.
Blake Peavey dished out three assists to aid the Espanola offensive cause.
Marc Terriault finished the night with 33 saves to register the win.
Lefebvre allowed three against on nine shots while Muzyka suffered the loss in relief stopping 24 of 27.
ABITIBI ESKIMOS 2 ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS 1 – A tight-checking affair went the way of the Eskimos as they edged the Bobcats in game 1 of the series at Jus Jordan Arena.
Ryan Tront, Abitibi’s leading point producer against the Bobcats during the regular season, redirected a Kealey Cummings point blast past Alex Bitsakis in the Elliot Lake net 68 seconds into the contest.
The Eskimos extended their lead at 7:44 and Ryan Wildman converted on a man advantage opportunity to put the home team up by a pair.
Neither squad would connect in the middle session as the Abitibi lead held up into the third.
The Bobcats pressed in that final frame as they peppered Eskimos netminder Brody Wagner with 14 shots.
They were rewarded in the final minute as they broke Wagner’s shutout bid at 19:20 as Max Glashauser’s shot from the left pouint was deflected in by Aaron Carmichael.
Elliot Lake could not get any closer however before time ran out as Abitibi held on for the victory.
Wagner ended the evening with 32 saves in picking up the win.
Bitsakis stopped 25 of 27 in a losing cause for the visitors.
NOJHL playoff action continues Saturday on three fronts with all having 7:30 p.m. starts.
Game 1 of the Soo Thunderbirds – Blind River Beavers begins at Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie while the Gold Miners and Trappers along with the Eskimos and Bobcats meeting in their respective game 2 contests in Kirkland Lake and Iroquois Falls.
NOJHL QUARTER-FINALS SCHEDULE/RESULTS
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 8 Blind River Beavers
Best-of-seven series tied 0-0
Game 1: March 15 @ Soo 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: March 16 @ Blind River 4 p.m.
Game 3: March 20 @ Soo 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: March 22 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m.
Game 5*: March 23 @ Soo 7:30 p.m.
Game 6*: March 24 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m.
Game 7*: March 26 @ Soo 7:30 p.m.
No. 2 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners vs. No. 7 North Bay Trappers
Gold Miners lead best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Kirkland Lake 3 North Bay 1
Game 2: March 15 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: March 17 @ Mattawa 7 p.m.
Game 4: March 18 @ Mattawa 7 p.m.
Game 5*: March 21 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m.
Game 6*: March 22 @ Mattawa 7 p.m.
Game 7*: March 24 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m.
No. 3 Espanola Rivermen vs. No. 6 Sudbury Nickel Barons
Rivermen lead best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Espanola 6 Sudbury 3
Game 2: March 16 @ Espanola 2 p.m.
Game 3: March 17 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: March 19 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m.
Game 5*: March 21 @ Little Current 7:30 p.m.
Game 6*: March 23 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m.
Game 7*: March 26 @ Espanola 7:30 p.m.
No. 4 Abitibi Eskimos vs. No. 5 Elliot Lake Bobcats
Eskimos lead best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Abitibi 2 Elliot Lake 1
Game 2: March 15 @ Abitibi 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: March 20 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m.
Game 4: March 21 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m.
Game 5*: March 23 @ Abitibi 7:30 p.m.
Game 6*: March 24 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m.
Game 7*: March 26 @ Abitibi 7:30 p.m.