Special teams sends Cochrane past Soo in NOJHL finals opener



Release Date: Saturday, April 11, 2015

Special teams sends Cochrane past Soo in NOJHL finals opener

SAULT STE. MARIE – The Cochrane Crunch rode the strength of four special teams tallies, scoring twice shorthanded and two more while on the power play, to help lift them to a 6-2 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds Saturday in Game 1 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s championship series for the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy at Essar Centre.

Game 2 in this best-of-seven set goes Sunday at 7:30 p.m. back in Sault Ste. Marie.

Having won their first five road games of the playoffs, Cochrane looked to build on that as they notched the initial goal of the NOJHL finals, five and half minute minutes into the contest, when Daniel Stagg beat Thunderbirds starter Brian Kment.

The visitors extended their lead at 13:30 of the first as the NOJHL’s leading point-producer, in Dustin Cordeiro, found himself free in front during a man advantage and snapped home his 11th of the postseason to put the Crunch up a pair after one period of play.

Despite being down a man Cochrane made it 3-0 midway through the contest when Cody Gratton, the top goal scorer during the course of the regular season, intercepted the puck near his own blueline and darted free on a shorthanded breakaway and made no mistake deking left and lifting a backhand over top of a sprawling Kment.

Cordeiro, who was serving the penalty on the man down marker, came out of the box and was sent in alone 49 seconds later and buried his second of the evening to put the Crunch up by four and also saw the end of Kment’s night as he was replaced by Mario Culina.

The Thunderbirds would get on the board at 12:01 of second following a face-off win as Brett Jeffries redirected a shot from the right point that eluded Cochrane netminder Brett Young.

Up a skater the Crunch went up by four a Cordeiro capped  off a hat trick as he saw a Max Glashauser attempt deflect off him and through Culina at 3:31.

The T-Birds got one back four minutes later when Anthony Miller sent Boris Katcouck darting down the right side, who powered his way to the slot and tucked between the legs of Young.

Cochrane then broke out and tacked on another shorthanded effort as Cordeiro slid a pass to a hard-skating Henry Berger, who quickly fired one past Culina at 12:26 to round out the scoring.

With his four-point night, Cordeiro upped his league-leading point total to 24 as he and Gratton also extended consecutive game point streak to six apiece.

Lost in the offensive outburst  by the Crunch was the play of Young in net, who was solid on the night finishing the night with 49 stops as he won for the ninth time in the postseason with his victory total pacing all NOJHL goaltenders.

Kment faced 19 attempts in defeat for the T-Birds while Culina saw 14 shots fired his way in relief.

Soo Thunderbirds vs. Cochrane Crunch
Crunch lead best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Cochrane 6 Soo 2
Game 2: Sunday, April 12 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 3: Thursday, April 16 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 4: Friday, April 17 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 5*: Monday, April 20 @ Soo 7 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 6*: Wednesday, April 22 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 7*: Friday, April 24 @ Soo 7 p.m. (Essar Centre)
*-if necessary

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