NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Friday, March 15, 2013
Thunderbirds, Gold Miners take playoff openers
SUDBURY – Two of the three first round Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff match-ups kicked off Friday with the Soo Thunderbirds and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners both grabbing the early lead in their respective series.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS 9 ABITIBI ESKIMOS 2 – The defending NOJHL champion Thunderbirds began defence of their title in fine form scoring on the first shift of the game and not looking back in the series opening romp over Abitibi at Essar Centre.
Jeremy Solomon put the Soo on the board just 19 seconds after the opening face-off to send the home side on their way.
Michael Caruso got into the act eight minutes later to make it 2-0 Thunderbirds after 20 minutes.
A Derek Battagin tally early in the middle stanza increased the cushion to three before Peter Poulin-Roy bagged a power play marker at 3:43 to get the Eskimos on the board.
However Gavin Burbach and Dallas McLaughlin, who struck shorthanded, answered back for the T-Birds later in the session making it 5-1.
A Ben Miller effort at 18:33 gave the visitors some life heading into the final period.
Yet once again however Sault Ste. Marie buried another early goal with Burbach connecting at 1:54 for his second of the evening.
The Thunderbirds continued their onslaught six minutes after that as Adam Ritchie scored on the power play to put the outcome no longer in doubt.
They then completed the opening night rout by getting markers from Anthony Butorac and another from McLaughlin to round out the scoring.
The trio of Nicholas Pastorious, Darcy Casola and Brandon Warmington each chipped in with two assists to aid the offensive cause.
Steven Dombrowki finished up facing 24 shots to pick up the game 1 victory.
Jeremy Laux started for the Eskimos and suffered the loss making 23 stops while Jackson Winkler made eight saves in relief.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven affair goes Saturday at 1:30 p.m. back at Essar Centre.
KIRKLAND LAKE GOLD MINERS 5 BLIND RIVER BEAVERS 2 – Kirkland Lake got a pair of power play tallies and an assist from Jean-Michel Naud along with a goal and two helpers from Jean-Francois Silvestre to help lead them to the game 1 triumph over Blind River.
It was the visiting Beavers who opened the scoring in this one as Brandon Bazinet found the back of the net at 10:40 of the first period.
Kirkland Lake responded a minute and 18 seconds later thanks to the first of two man advantage markers that Naud would collect before the opening frame was complete.
The Gold Miners extended their lead to 4-1 after 40 minutes with a couple more man advantage markers that came off the sticks of Silvestre and captain Connor McNally.
Cray Roberge brought Blind River back into it connecting at the 18 second mark of the third to make it interesting.
However Tanner Lafrance added some insurance for the Miners scoring with 6:49 to go to finish things off.
Daniel Morin and Dustin Jesseau both supplied a couple of assists apiece to help the home side’s offensive production.
Chris Komma went the distance in the Kirkland Lake net and picked up the win stopping 17 shots along the way.
Brock Crossthwaite faced 29 pucks in defeat.
Game 2 in this series goes Saturday night back at “The Joe” with the opening face-off set for 7:30 p.m.
The other remaining first round match-up gets underway Saturday with Sudbury hosting Elliot Lake in a 7:30 p.m. start at McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff.
NOJHL Playoffs: Round 1
No. 2 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 7 Abitibi Eskimos
Thunderbirds lead best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Soo 9 Abitibi 2
Game 2: Saturday, March 16 @ Sault Ste. Marie 1:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 3: Saturday, March 23 @ Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Game 4: Sunday, March 24 @ Iroquois Falls 2 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Game 5*: Monday, March 25 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 6*: Tuesday, March 26 @ Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan)
Game 7*: Wednesday, March 27 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7:30 p.m. (Arena – T.B.A.)
No. 3 Sudbury Nickel Barons vs. No. 6 Elliot Lake Bobcats
Best-of-seven series tied 0-0
Game 1: Saturday, March 16 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m. (McClelland Arena)
Game 2: Monday, March 18 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial Arena)
Game 3: Wednesday, March 20 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m. (McClelland Arena)
Game 4: Friday, March 22 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial Arena)
Game 5*: Saturday, March 23 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m. (McClelland Arena)
Game 6*: Sunday, March 24 @ Elliot Lake 7:30 p.m. (Centennial Arena)
Game 7*: Wednesday, March 27 @ Sudbury 7:30 p.m. (McClelland Arena)
No. 4 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners vs. No. 5 Blind River Beavers
Gold Miners lead best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Kirkland Lake 5 Blind River 2
Game 2: Saturday, March 16 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Game 3: Thursday, March 21 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 4: Friday, March 22 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 5*: Saturday, March 23 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 6*: Tuesday, March 26 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Game 7*: Wednesday, March 27 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Bye: No. 1 North Bay Trappers (Regular season winner)