NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Friday, Jan. 10, 2014
Rivermen take Showcase opener over Bobcats; T-Birds win streak reaches 16 with OT triumph over Gold Miners; Eskimos blast Beavers
SUDBURY – A trio of games on the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Friday, including the opening contest of the NOJHL Showcase in Espanola, saw the hometown Rivermen double up the Elliot Lake Bobcats 4-2.
Other action in the NOJHL on this night saw the Soo Thunderbirds extend their winning streak to 16 in a row with a hard-fought 2-1 overtime triumph over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at Essar Centre while the Abitibi Eskimos handled the Blind River Beavers 6-1.
ESPANOLA RIVERMEN 4 ELLIOT LAKE BOBCATS 2 – The NOJHL’s leading scorer Brennen Dubchak scored twice to reach the 62-point plateau and extend a consecutive game point streak to 19 straight outings as Espanola defeated Elliot Lake in the Showcase opener in front of a big crowd at the Regional Recreation Complex.
Brett Wagner notched both goals for the Bobcats as he now has a league-high 31 tallies on the season. His efforts also helped him record at least one point in his last 14 games played.
After Wagner supplied the lone tally of the opening stanza, he struck shorthanded 4:20 in the middle session to put Elliot Lake up a pair.
Not to be deterred the Rivermen began their comeback 23 seconds later thanks to Robert Smythe who found the back of the net moments after a Bobcats penalty had expired.
Cray Roberge then pulled Espanola even before the stanza was complete to send the two sides into the third tied at 2-2.
Dubchak then buried the eventual game-winner with an unassisted effort at 4:43 and then iced it with an empty netter in the final minute to seal the come from behind victory.
Marc Terriault made 28 saves to pick-up the victory with Alex Bitsakis seeing 31 pucks fired his way in the narrow defeat.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS 2 KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS 1 (OT) – Eric Hillock slammed home a nifty cross-ice pass from Darcy Haines during a power play with 14 seconds remaining in the first OT session to help the Thunderbirds rally and continue their run of victories while also remaining unbeaten home ice so far this season.
After a scoreless opening period, Andrew Bertrand put Kirkland Lake up a goal with the lone tally of the middle session, which came at 13:19.
Sault Ste. Marie then forced extra time as captain Gavin Burbach notched the equalizer with 8:10 left in regulation.
Some great chances for the Gold Miners in the latter stages of the third and early in OT were thwarted by number of big saves by Joel Horodziejczyk in the Thunderbirds net to keep his club’s streak alive.
Then with the home side holding a man advantage in the final minute of the first extra session Haines found an open Hillock who was backing away from a crowd in front as he one-timed the game-winner past the outstretched pad of Kirkland Lake goalkeeper Jeremy Pominville to end it.
Horodziejczyk finished up with 28 saves that included a couple of the spectacular variety to win his 19th consecutive start while also lowering his league-leading goals-against average to 1.62 and raising his NOJHL-best save percentage to .937.
Pominville was also solid helping his side pick up a point in the OT setback and he made 23 stops on the night.
ABITIBI ESKIMOS 6 BLIND RIVER BEAVERS 1 – Brenden Locke tallied twice and set-up another while Erik Robichaud had a couple of goals of his own to help Abitibi defeat Blind River.
The Eskimos jumped out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes on markers by Locke and Ryan Kerr.
Locke then extended the Abitibi cushion to three with the lone effort of the middle stanza as he connected on the power play at 18:23.
They added to their lead with a couple of quick strikes in the final frame Landon Hiebert and Robichaud replying 55 seconds apart to make it 5-0 by the two-minute mark of the third.
Robichaud’s second of the evening at 8:08 extended the cushion with Blind River’s Matthew Nault spoiling Brody Wagner’s big for a second straight shutout with 9:45 to go.
Wagner did however secure the victory while Jessie Morin was saddled with the loss.
League play continues with the finale of the Showcase in Espanola with three match-ups on the slate.
Game 1 features Kirkland Lake taking on Blind River at 1:30 p.m., Abitibi meeting Sault Ste. Marie at 4:15 p.m. and concludes with Sudbury squaring off against North Bay at 7:15 p.m.