COCHRANE, Ont. – A Kyle Potts power play goal, 4:50 into the third period, proved to be the game-winner as the Oakville Blades (OJHL) went on to defeat the Hearst Lumberjacks (NOJHL) 4-2 Tuesday afternoon in the opening game of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Junior A Championship at Tim Horton Events Centre.
A free-wheeling first five minutes of the contest saw the two clubs strike three times.
Oakville opened the proceedings 96 seconds in as Ryan Nicholson intercepted a clearing attempt in the neutral zone and skated into the Hearst zone and lifted a backhander over the left pad of goaltender Nicholas Tallarico.
The Lumberjacks came right back a couple shifts later to level the affair as Max Johnson fired one behind the net where Jake Desando scooped it up, cut in front as fired a shot that beat Blades starter Will Barber.
It was more from the NOJHL champions less than a minute later as Cameron Clark worked it free to Daniel Fisher who whipped his attempt past Barber from the right side.
Hearst had a great chance to extend their cushion midway through the first period as Max Griffioen was sent in alone on a breakaway, only to be denied by the OJHL stopper, who made a quality save.
Both clubs kept up the quick pace the remainder of the session, but the two goalkeepers were firm as the Lumberjacks carried the 2-1 cushion into the intermission.
The OJHL title holders carried the play in the middle session and were rewarded with the equalizer at 16:36 when Spencer Kersten dropped one for Josh Nixon on the left wing where he wristed a shot that beat Tallarico under the glove.
Special teams helped Oakville to regain the lead in the third as the Blades moved it around nicely on a power play as Harrison Israels put a pass through the crease to a waiting Potts, who quickly buried his opportunity from close range for the eventual difference maker.
It was more from the Blades duo in the latter stages of the contest as Israels put a pass out front that Potts knocked in with a low back hand effort that slid under Tallarico at 16:10 to round out the scoring.
Oakville also held the edge in shots on goal by a 40-28 margin with Barber picking up the win and Tallarico the loss.
Game 2 of the day goes at 7:30 p.m. as the host Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL) take on the Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL).
Wednesday’s docket features the Lumberjacks meeting the North Stars at 2:30 p.m. while the Blades and Crunch meet at 7:30 p.m.
All Dudley-Hewitt Cup games will be streamed live and on demand via HockeyTV.com.
Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL-Host)
Hearst Lumberjacks (NOJHL)
Oakville Blades (OJHL)
Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL)
Tuesday, April 30
Oakville 4 Hearst 2
Thunder Bay vs. Cochrane 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 1
Hearst vs. Thunder Bay 2:30 p.m.
Cochrane vs. Oakville 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 2
Thunder Bay vs. Oakville 2:30 p.m.
Hearst vs. Cochrane 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 3
Semifinal: 3rd round robin vs. 2nd round robin 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 4
Final: Semifinal winner vs. 1st round robin
DHC winner advances to Canadian National Jr. A Championship, May 11-19, in Brooks, Alta.
Photos by OJHL IMAGES