POWASSAN, Ont. – An Eric Barnard tally 36 seconds into overtime was the difference as the Espanola Express pulled out a 6-5 triumph over the Powassan Voodoos Monday night in a back-and-forth Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair at the Powassan Sportsplex.
Fresh off a win Sunday afternoon, Espanola kept it rolling in the first period in Monday’s contest as they skated out to a 2-0 lead after one period of play.
Yan Bessette started the Express off on the right track as he jammed in a loose puck while stationed to the left of Powassan starter Owen Wray at 14:20.
The visitors then tacked on another, with only moments remaining in the session, when Adam Shillinglaw fired one through a partial screen from the slot, finishing off some solid work along the end boards by Ryan Rubic and Jack Thor.
Answering early in the middle stanza, the Voodoos needed less a minute to cut into the deficit as Jacob Dupont whipped an attempt over the glove of Espanola goalkeeper Matthew Loney from in close.
Drawing level midway through the match-up, James Johnson notched a shorthanded marker for the home side as he saw an inadvertent clearing attempt by Loney put right on his stick where he managed to put it in before the diving netminder could get enough of it to knock it away.
Still up a skater though, the Express went back on top 54 seconds later as they saw Benjamin Lacroix convert off a miscue at the other end that allowed him to chip one over the pad of an outstretched Wray.
It was more Express late in the stanza when Kobe Braham ran a point streak to six consecutive contests by chipping the puck past a pair of Powassan players before darting down the left wing and making no mistake with a wrist shot, to give him 17 goals on the campaign.
Puling back to within one in the third, Powassan’s Justin Spurrell lifted in a backhand on a delayed penalty from the top of the crease with just over 13 minutes remaining in regulation.
A man advantage marker from Rodion Tatarenko then tied it at 12:23 as he reached the 20-goal plateau by skating in and ripping one from between the hash marks that Loney could only get a piece off before it slid across the goal line.
The Voodoos then went in front a couple of shifts later thanks to Caleb Van de Ven, who cranked a blast into the top corner from the right face off dot.
Coming back to send it to extra time, in the final minute and with their goaltender out for an attacker, Espanola’s Ty McHutchion put a bouncing puck towards the net that changed direction and fluttered over the shoulder of Wray with just 17 seconds to go.
Moving to OT, Powassan’s Mike Levin rang a shot off the crossbar early, then saw his side have another solid opportunity moments later that was saved by Loney before the Express countered in numbers and saw Barnard bury the game-winner off a rush up ice from the left side to end it.
The victory was the second-straight for the Express while the setback for the Voodoos means they will finish third in the NOJHL’s East Division and will meet either the Hearst Lumberjacks or Timmins Rock in an upcoming playoff series, that will get underway next month.