Photos: Northern Exposures Photography
ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – Backed by a five-point night from Jonathan Lush, the Espanola Paper Kings withstood a late push by the Elliot Lake Red Wings to pull out a narrow 5-4 victory Friday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up at Centennial Arena.
The visiting Paper Kings opened the scoring just past the eight-minute mark of the first period thanks to Lush dishing one off to defenceman Joshua Romolo, who snaped a shot by Elliot Lake goalkeeper Sean Guerin from the right faceoff circle.
Adding another while shorthanded, Lush did the work once more, as he cruised down the left wing and saucered a pass through the crease to a waiting Hunter Friesen who quickly whipped it in from close range at 16:13.
Not done there, Espanola added another on Lush’s third point of the period as he buried a one-timer from the slot by Guerin, off a Friesen feed, with the clubs skating four aside.
A nice touch by goaltenders during the first intermission, Guerin, who was replaced by Cameron Smith to commence the middle stanza, and Espanola back-up Creedon Dyck both stayed out for part of the break to man the nets for a Timbits mini-game for the youngsters and spectators to enjoy.
Resuming game play in the second, the Red Wings got on the board at 5:24 as recently acquired Adam Matar won a race for the puck along the boards and sent a backhand over to Thomas Dimoulas, who sent it by Paper Kings’ netminder Jake Marois.
The home side had a glorious chance to pull within one just prior to the period ending, but Elliot Lake’s Brodie Kearns was foiled by the pad of Marois on a partial break to keep it 3-1 Espanola after two.
Extending their cushion four and a half minutes into the final frame, Lush added his fourth point of the evening as his back pass in front allowed Alexander Christopoulos to steer in third of the year from the top of the crease.
Elliot Lake did get that back at 13:03 as Evan Dantas put a play out front from the end boards that was promptly slammed in by an unchecked Kaden Laverdiere.
Adding another with 2:06 remaining, Dantas was obstructed on a shorthanded chance and was awarded a penalty shot.
On the play, Dantas skated in from right-to-left and into mid-ice where he snapped a quick wrister past the blocker of Marois to make it a one-goal game.
Getting Smith out for another skater, the hosts looked to tie it, but the visitors forced a turnover that allowed Lush to complete his big night with an empty netter.
Not giving up, the Red Wings got one more in the final moments on a Braden Twigg effort from between the hash marks to round out the scoring.
The outcome sees the Paper Kings improve to 13-11-2-2 while in defeat Elliot Lake slipped to 12-14-1-1.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel