ESPANOLA, Ont. – The Espanola Paper Kings built up a four-goal lead then had to withstand a Soo Thunderbirds comeback bid before eventually prevailing with a 5-3 victory Saturday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest held at the Regional Recreation Complex.
The lone tally in the first period was generated and finished by Espanola’s Lucas Signoretti, who pressured a turnover, then buried it after being set-up from the corner in beating Sault Ste. Marie starter Landon Miller five minutes into the match-up for his 36th goal and giving him points in 10 straight games.
Action in the middle stanza saw five goals scored, including three from the Paper Kings.
Jonathan Lush put the home side up 2-0 moments into the frame as he backhanded in a chance while in front of Miller.
Espanola special teams then went to work to put them up by four as they notched one on the power play, and another while shorthanded.
Signoretti’s second of the evening came with the Paper Kings up a skater as he put one in off a one-timer from the right circle.
Then with an Espanola player in the box, Devin Mauro intercepted a Soo pass and darted in alone on a breakaway where he deked to his left and slid his chance past the pad of Miller to make it 4-0.
Countering, the Thunderbirds got on the board at 14:29, thanks to Dharan Cap, who powered his way down the right side around a few defenders then went hard to the net where he chipped one by Paper Kings netminder Jake Marois.
The Soo then pulled to within to before the second intermission when James Kearney stuffed in a pass from behind the net while parked in front of Marois.
In the third, the Thunderbirds made it 4-3 with four and a half minutes to play as Brodie McConnell-Barker pumped in his ninth of the campaign, with a well placed attempt from the high slot.
Getting Miller out for an extra attacker late in regulation, the Soo pressed to tie it and send it to overtime, but Spencer Horgan sealed the result with an empty netter in the final moments to secure the win.
With the decision, Espanola moved to 26-20-2-2 on the year while the T-Birds dropped to 33-13-3-2 overall.