NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE
Release Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Thunderbirds take NOJHL finals opener in double OT
SUDBURY – Soo Thunderbirds captain Gavin Burbach’s unassisted goal following a giveaway, 5:12 into the second overtime, lifted his side to a dramatic 2-1 victory over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Saturday evening in game 1 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Copeland Cup – McNamara trophy final at Essar Centre.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven affair goes Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. back in Sault Ste. Marie.
The Thunderbirds opened the scoring three and a half minutes into the contest as Owen Headrick cranked a hard shot off the boards from the right point that bounced perfectly off the boards to a wide-open Eric Hillock who slammed the puck into the corner past Gold Miners’ starter Jeremy Pominville, who had no chance on the play.
Kirkland Lake used the man advantage to pull even in the middle stanza as they used some precision passing to tie it as Steven Babin and Samuel Wilbur combined to feed a pinching Jeremy Picard-Fiset, who notched the equalizer at 10:53 beating Brian Kment.
The two sides then settled into a tight-checking mode the rest of the way with the Thunderbirds eventually taking advantage of a glaring turnover by a Gold Miners’ defenceman in front of his own net to end it in extra time as Burbach fired the winner past a surprised Pominville to give Sault Ste. Marie the early series lead.
Shots on goal in the contest favoured the Thunderbirds 42-34 with Kment picking up the victory as he improved to 9-0 in the playoffs. Pominville suffered his first loss in the playoffs with the result.
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
Thunderbirds lead best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Soo 2 Kirkland Lake 1 (2 OT)
Game 2: Sunday, April 13 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
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