NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Thursday, April 17, 2014
Kirkland Lake takes game 3 of NOJHL final in OT
KIRKLAND LAKE – An Austin Rust goal 4:40 into overtime was the difference as the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners edged the Soo Thunderbirds 4-3 Thursday evening in game 3 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Copeland Cup – McNamara trophy final in front of a standing room only crowd at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
By virtue of the victory the Gold Miners now lead the best-of-seven affair 2-1 with game 4 going Friday evening back at The Joe at 7:30 p.m.
The lone tally of the opening period came off the stick of Kirkland Lake’s Steven Babin who spun and fired a quick attempt from the left of the crease off a right point shot from Damon MacEachern past Joel Horodziejczyk in the Sault Ste. Marie net at 12:25.
With the goal Babin extended a streak which has seen him register at least one point in all 11 playoff contests the Gold Miners have played to date.
The visitors notched the equalizer early in the middle frame as Darcy Haines connected from in close to get his side on the board following a goal-mouth scramble.
Special teams allowed Kirkland Lake to go back on top just past the midway mark of the contest as Mathieu Lecompte was left alone in front of Horodziejczyk during a power play and slid in a slow backhand.
Undaunted the T-Birds pulled even late in the stanza as Haines lifted one over top of Jeremy Pominville as he flew over top the Gold Miners’ goalkeeper at 18:23.
Samuel Wilbur put the home side back in front five minutes into the third as he drove in from the T-Birds’ blueline and beat Horodziejczyk after a couple of quick moves.
Pressing for the tying tally late in regulation and with their netminder on the bench in favour of an extra attacker Sault Ste. Marie forced extra time as Medric Mercier snapped one past Pominville from the right face-off circle with 12.2 seconds left to send the game to OT.
In the extra period Kirkland Lake would pull out the win as Everett Thompson fed a hard-charging Rust, who went high over a falling Horodziejczyk to give the Gold Miners the victory and the series lead.
The NOJHL winner will advance to represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship April 29 through May 3 in Wellington, Ont.
They will join the title holders from the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Superior International Junior Hockey League along with the host Wellington Dukes (OJHL) at the five-day event.
NOJHL final for the Copeland Cup-McNamara Trophy
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Gold Miners lead best-of-seven series 2-1
Game 1: Soo 2 Kirkland Lake 1 (2 OT)
Game 2: Kirkland Lake 5 Soo 3
Game 3: Kirkland Lake 4 Soo 3 (OT)
Game 4: Friday, April 18 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac C.C.)
Game 5: Sunday, April 20 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 6*: Tuesday, April 22 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac C.C.)
Game 7*: Thursday, April 24 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
* – if necessary