Photos: Powassan Voodoos
POWASSAN, Ont. – The surprising Espanola Paper Kings came back from an early two-goal deficit to defeat the Powassan Voodoos 4-2 Wednesday night in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up at the Powassan Sportsplex.
Picking up an early power play, Powassan took advantage as they opened the scoring 2:40 into the contest when Carson Ricci provided a play from the point that allowed Kaedyn Long to redirect an attempt past Espanola starter Andrew Gaulton to give him three tallies in his previous 26 minutes of playing time.
Up a skater again, later in the frame, the Voodoos went up by a pair when Rhys Smetham made nice back pass through the crease right to a waiting Tucker Shields, who slid the puck into the open side of the net to give him goals in three straight outings.
The Paper Kings did have a number of quality chances in the first period, including a trio of breakaways, but could not solve Powassan netminder Caleb Sanders, who was making his NOJHL debut.
Heading to the middle stanza though, another surging skater, Atley Gringorten of the Paper Kings notched his fourth goal, in just two games, to bring the visitors within one as he came out of a scrum in the right corner and proceeded to snap a shot that beat Sanders at 11:32.
Staying 2-1 for the home side into the third, Espanola picked up the equalizer when Espanola captain Joshua Romolo sent a sizzler from the point that flew into the back of the net at 7:43.
Taking their first lead of the night, the Paper Kings clicked on the power play with just over eight minutes remaining when Hunter Friesen jammed in the eventual game-winner that was sitting in the crease after Sanders could not fully control a blast from defenceman Conor Walton, who extended a consecutive game point streak to a current team-best five in succession.
The Voodoos did pull their goalkeeper in the late going to try and help send it to overtime, however Espanola’s Yan Bessette was sent up ice out of his own zone where he darted down the ice and secured the road triumph with an empty netter in the final moments to round out the scoring.
With the outcome, the upstart Paper Kings improved to 4-1 as they moved into a share of top spot in the overall NOJHL standings, joining the Timmins Rock, with eight points apiece.
In the loss, Powassan fell to 3-2 overall.
The same two teams meet again Friday as they wrap-up a home-and-home in a 7:30 p.m. start at the Regional Recreation Complex, and on HockeyTV.com.