NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Gold Miners take game 2 to even NOJHL final at 1-1
SAULT STE. MARIE – The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners jumped out to an early lead and never trailed en route to a 5-3 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds Sunday night in game 2 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Copeland Cup – McNamara trophy final at Essar Centre.
With the result this best-of-seven series is now tied at 1-1 heading into game 3 Thursday evening at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake. The opening face-off in that one is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Gold Miners got off to a quick start as Everett Thompson stuffed in a shot on a backhand from in close that bounced directly to his stick off the end boards as he beat Thunderbirds starter Brian Kment at 1:48.
Austin Rust extended the visitors cushion with seven and a half minutes left in the opening session on a highlight reel goal as he corralled a loose puck near the Sault Ste. Marie blueline before darting between a pair of T-Birds’ defenders and calmly tucking his attempt between the legs of Kment.
The home side carried the play in the middle session outshooting the Gold Miners 17-5 in the stanza, but found themselves down 4-1 however after 40 minutes.
After a face-off deep in Kirkland Lake territory they broke out three-on-two and were rewarded with a trailing Jeremy Picard-Fiset jamming one in from the top of the crease to make it 3-0.
Medric Mercier would eventually get the Thunderbirds on the board midway through the contest as he spun and fired a shot from the left point that found its way through a maze in front of Jeremy Pominville in the Miners net.
Countering, Kirkland Lake restored their the three-goal cushion at 15:27 of the second as Jonathon Langford came out from behind the net and banked in a shot off Kment.
To start the final frame Soo coach Jordan Smith opted to start Joel Horodziejczyk, who made his first appearance in goal for the Thunderbirds since their opening game of the postseason.
The Sault made it 4-2 with 15 minutes to go in regulation as rookie forward Jaren Bellini was credited with his third of the playoffs as he knocked in a shot from the side boards.
Langford however added his second of the night with 9:51 left as he skated in cross-crease and lifted in his own rebound over a sprawled Horodziejczyk.
With the sides skating four aside Gavin Burbach pulled the T-Birds to within two with five minutes to go in what would turn out to be the final tally of the evening as the Gold Miners held on to even the series.
Samuel Wilbur added a pair of assists for the winners on the night.
Pominville made 30 saves to record the victory for Kirkland Lake.
Kment suffered his first loss in the playoffs slipping to 9-1 allowing four against on 17 shots in two periods of work.
Horodziejczyk turned aside eight of nine in relief.
The NOJHL winner will advance to represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Jr. A championship April 29 through May 3 in Wellington, Ont.
They will join the title holders from the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Superior International Junior Hockey League along with the host Wellington Dukes (OJHL) at the five-day event.
NOJHL final for the Copeland Cup-McNamara Trophy
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
Game 1: Soo 2 Kirkland Lake 1 (2 OT)
Game 2: Kirkland Lake 5 Soo 3
Game 3: Thursday, April 17 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac C.C.)
Game 4: Friday, April 18 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac C.C.)
Game 5: Sunday, April 20 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 6*: Tuesday, April 22 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac C.C.)
Game 7*: Thursday, April 24 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
* – if necessary