NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Kirkland Lake Gold Miners crowned NOJHL champions
KIRKLAND LAKE – An Everett Thompson power play tally late in the second period proved to be the difference as the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners edged the Soo Thunderbirds 2-1 Tuesday evening to capture the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Copeland Cup McNamara trophy as NOJHL champions in six hard-fought games.
The Gold Miners now advance to represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Jr. A championship, April 29 through May 3 in Wellington, Ont.
In Tuesday’s contest Kirkland Lake opened the scoring two and a half minutes in as Steven Babin beat a Thunderbirds defender to the puck on a dump in that was left behind the net by goaltender Joel Horodziejczyk and fed a wide-open Damon MacEachern in front who slipped the night’s first tally into a yawning cage.
Sault Ste. Marie, playing without the captain and the NOJHL’s leading scorer Gavin Burbach due to injury, notched the equalizer midway through the contest as Tyler Jones made a crisp cross-ice pass from the right point to the stick of the Nicolas Tassone, who wristed a shot past Gold Miners’ starter Jeremy Pominville from the left face-off dot.
The home side retook the lead late in the second stanza during a man advantage as Babin neatly chipped a puck past Jones just into Sault territory where McEachern sent it over to Thompson, who beat Horodziejczyk from in close at 18:18.
Kirkland Lake had another good opportunity in the final seconds of the frame only to see Samuel Wilbur’s backhand stopped by Horodziejczyk.
Neither side would score in the final 20 minutes with Pominville and Horodziejczyk making a number of key saves in thwarting opposing shooters.
The Thunderbirds pulled their netminder in the late going in an effort to notch the equalizer, but could not dent the Gold Miners’ defence.
Final shots on goal were 26-25 in favour of the victors.
Joining the Gold Miners in the Dudley-Hewitt Cup will be the host Wellington Dukes along with Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Toronto Lakeshore Patriots.
The Superior International Junior Hockey League rep at the Dudley-Hewitt will be determined Wednesday as the Fort Frances Lakers host the Minnesota Iron Rangers in game 7 of the Bill Salonen Cup final, which is knotted at three wins apiece.
NOJHL final for the Copeland Cup-McNamara Trophy
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Gold Miners win best-of-seven series 4-2
Game 1: Soo 2 Kirkland Lake 1 (2 OT)
Game 2: Kirkland Lake 5 Soo 3
Game 3: Kirkland Lake 4 Soo 3 (OT)
Game 4: Kirkland Lake 4 Soo 1
Game 5: Soo 5 Kirkland Lake 1
Game 6: Kirkland Lake 2 Soo 1