HEARST, Ont. – Max Griffioen’s second goal of the game, coming 1:41 into overtime, was the difference as the hometown Hearst Lumberjacks rallied for a 3-2 decision over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League season-opener in front of nearly 800 spectators at Claude Larose Arena.
Hearst was recognized pre-game for their 2018-19 NOJHL championship they won as they captured the league title during the previous campaign.
However, it was the visitors who made an immediate impression in the first frame as they skated out to a 2-0 lead after one period of play as Robert McLaughlin and Cameron Neaylon both collected their first NOJHL goals for the Gold Miners.
Answering back in a physical second stanza, Hearst got on the board at 8:49 as Griffioen connected on the power play to bring the hosts to within one.
They then drew level less than four minutes later with Mathew Eardley supplying the equalizer to knot the affair at 2-2.
After a scoreless third the two teams headed to extra time to try and determine a winner.
There they went back and forth early on, but it was the Lumberjacks who completed the comeback as they broke up a Kirkland Lake rush then came back on a two-on-one with Jake Desando saucering a feed over to Griffioen, who promptly fired the game-winner past a sprawled Kohl Reddy in the Gold Miners’ net.
Shots of goal also favoured Hearst by a 34-26 margin with Liam Oxner winning his NOJHL debut while Reddy’s efforts helped his side earn a point in defeat.
Game Photos courtesy of Marianka Cantin