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Minichiello’s, Crunch impress in season-opening win over Rapids

COCHRANE, Ont. – The Cochrane Crunch improved to 5-1 all-time in both home and season-openers as they skated to an impressive 10-0 triumph over the French River Rapids Thursday evening as the 2019-20 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League campaign got underway at Tim Horton Events Centre.

Both Stephen Minichiello and Matthew Minichiello stood out while making their NOJHL debuts with Stephen scoring four times and helping set-up a goal while Matthew dished out five assists in the one-sided triumph.

Cochrane came out quickly, skating out to a 2-0 lead before the contest was four minutes old on markers from Minichiello and Nicholas Grandy as they each collected their initial league tallies.

Minichiello added another before the first frame was out as he connected on the power play at 13:31.

Down a skater early in the second stanza, Hunter Buzzi scored shorthanded to put the home side up by four.

It was more Crunch later in the middle session as they tacked on three more to break it open as Minichiello finished off a hat trick while J.P. Moreira, at even strength, and Jacob Seyers notched their first goals in the NOJHL.

Two more newcomers, in Tyson Moore and Delano Brown, continued the offensive outburst in the third before Minichiello collected his four of the night to finish off the romp.

Billy Paschen chipped in with a trio of helpers on an evening where 11 different skaters on the squad picked up points.

Zach Wickson did the rest in the Cochrane net as he turned aside all 26 shots, he faced, to post the initial league shutout on the first night of the season since back in 2003 when the then Sudbury Northern Wolves blanked the Rayside-Balfour Sabrecats.

The Crunch fired 60 attempts of French River netminders Sebastian Woods and Ben Montgomery, who both saw time in goal in defeat.