POWASSAN, Ont. – A Max Griffioen marker 9:18 into the third period proved to be the decider as the surging Hearst Lumberjacks went on to defeat the Powassan Voodoos 3-1 Thursday evening in Game 4 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division Final at the Powassan Sportsplex.
With the win, the Lumberjacks take the best-of-seven East Division Final in four straight and will now move on to their first-ever NOJHL championship series against either the Soo Thunderbirds or Rayside-Balfour Canadians.
An early man advantage helped Powassan pot the night’s opening tally as Tomas Yachmenev neatly deflected a shot from the right point by Voodoos’ captain Eric Allair.
Hearst drew level with a man advantage marker of their own at 15:12 of the second stanza as Griffioen teed one up for Alec Johnson at the point, who promptly one-timed a blast past Powassan goaltender Joe Vrbetic who was screened in front.
It was more Lumberjacks midway through the third as a long breakout play off a faceoff win deep in their own zone saw Griffioen get past a Powassan defender, which allowed him to dart in and raise a backhander over Vrbetic.
Hearst then sealed the series-clinching decision in the final minute as Bradley Golant won a race for a loose puck and put one into an empty net at 19:19.
Nicholas Tallarico made 35 saves for Lumberjacks, who won their seventh straight playoff contest.
Vrbetic finished with 25 stops in the season-ending setback for Powassan.
NOJHL East Division semifinal
Hearst Lumberjacks vs. Powassan Voodoos
Lumberjacks win best-of-seven series 4-0
Game 1: Hearst 4 Powassan 3 (OT)
Game 2: Hearst 4 Powassan 3 (OT)
Game 3: Hearst 5 Powassan 2
Game 4: Hearst 3 Powassan 1