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Recent Espanola Jr. A Hockey Club News

Gold Miners take game 2 to even NOJHL final at 1-1

04/13/2014, 10:30pm EDT
By NOJHL Communications

NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE

NOJHL COMMUNICATIONS
MEDIA UPDATE

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

 

Thunderbirds take NOJHL finals opener in double OT

04/12/2014, 11:00pm EDT
By NOJHL Communications

NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE

NOJHL COMMUNICATIONS
MEDIA UPDATE

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

 

Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy NOJHL final preview

04/12/2014, 7:00am EDT
By NOJHL Communications

NORTHERN ONTARIO JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE

NOJHL COMMUNICATIONS
MEDIA UPDATE

Release Date: Saturday, April 12, 2014

Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy NOJHL final preview

SUDBURY – The quest for the NOJHL championship and Copeland Cup – McNamara trophy between the Soo Thunderbirds and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners begins Saturday evening at Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie with game No. 1 at 7:30 p.m.

The following in a preview on this best-of-seven set between the two sides:

NOJHL final for the Copeland Cup-McNamara Trophy
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Best-of-seven series

Game 1: Saturday, April 12 @ Soo 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
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

NOTHING NEW: Being in the NOJHL finals is nothing new for the Thunderbirds as they are in their third straight league championship series as well as their fourth in five years.

As for the Gold Miners, they are making their first appearance in the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy final.

THE TEAMS: Both clubs have been nearly flawless in advancing to the finals with the Thunderbirds reeling off eight straight wins after dropping their playoff opener as they knocked off Blind River in five outings before handling Abitibi in the minimum four outings required.

The Gold Miners have been spotless posting back-to-back sweeps in the postseason disposing North Bay in quarter-final action before dumping Espanola in four straight games in semifinal play.

In regular season play the Thunderbirds finished first overall in the NOJHL standings while the Gold Miners finished second.

Sault Ste. Marie was the top ranked squad in the entire 128-team Canadian Junior Hockey League while Kirkland Lake was 13th.

THE SKATERS: Offensively the T-Birds have been led in the playoffs by rookie defenceman Owen Headrick who has a team-high 11 points to pace the squad. His totals also top all D-men in the NOJHL.

Talented forward Darcy Haines is next with 10 points followed by Anthony Miller with nine.

Kirkland Lake has been headed by Samuel Wilbur and Steven Babin as the duo has amassed 11 points apiece.

Damon MacEachern and Austin Rust have also contributed supplying nine points each.

THE GOALTENDERS: In net the two NOJHL finalists feature the top two goaltenders statistically in the league playoffs to date.

The Gold Miners Jeremy Pominville has been stellar going 7-0 so far while posting a NOJHL-best 1.43 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.

Sault Ste. Marie rookie stopper Brian Kment has been just as sharp registering an 8-0 record while sitting second in the league in average at 1.74 and save mark at .925.

THE COACHES: As their respective records would indicate both the Thunderbirds and Gold Miners are led by excellent coaches.

Jordan Smith with Sault Ste. Marie was named the NOJHL’s coach of the year this season while Kirkland Lake’s Marc Lafleur earned the nod in 2013-13.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: The two squads met eight times during the course of the regular season with the Sault going 4-3-1-0 vs. Kirkland Lake.

The clubs also battled to the only tie game in league play all season in a wildly entertaining 3-3 double overtime draw back in their last meeting back on Feb. 21.

In all the Gold Miners scored 20 times while the T-Birds found the back of the net just 16 times.

Steven Babin and Samuel Wilbur shared the scoring lead for Kirkland Lake against Sault Ste. Marie with six points apiece.

Tanner Lafrance, Austin Rust and Everet Thompson were next with five points each vs. the Thunderbirds.

The Sault’s top point getter in games vs. the Miners was defenceman Tyler Jones with eight, including four goals.

Darcy Haines and Gavin Burbach were next as the duo both had five points against them.

Special teams saw the Gold Miners go 6-33 with the man advantage in the season set with the Thunderbirds being just 1-25 on the power play.

The Sault did notch the lone shorthanded tally between the two squads.

HEAD-TO-HEAD RESULTS:

Sept. 13 @ Kirkland Lake (3-0 Gold Miners)
Oct. 19 @ Soo (2-1 Thunderbirds)
Nov. 8 @ Kirkland Lake (5-2 Gold Miners)
Nov. 24 @ Soo (6-2 Thunderbirds)
Jan. 3 @ Kirkland Lake (1-0 Thunderbirds)
Jan. 10 @ Soo (2-1 Thunderbirds OT)
Feb. 16 @ Soo (5-0 Gold Miners)
Feb. 21 @ Kirkland Lake (3-3 Tie 2 OT)

WHAT’S NEXT: The Bill Salonen Cup 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 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Ontario Junior Hockey League along with the host Wellington Dukes (OJHL) at the five-day event.

RBC CUP: The winner of the Dudley-Hewitt Cup will move on to represent the region at the RBC Cup Canadian Jr. A championship May 10-18 in Vernon, B.C.