Photos: Cathy Sullivan
POWASSAN, Ont. – The Hearst Lumberjacks picked up two goals apiece from Zachary Demers and Raphael Lajeunesse to help send them on their way to a 6-4 triumph over the Powassan Voodoos Monday in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff action at the Powassan Sportsplex.
The result now gives the Lumberjacks a three-games-to-one lead in their best-of-seven affair, heading into Game 5 Wednesday in Hearst at the Claude Larose Recreation Centre at 7 p.m.
Opening the scoring near the midway mark of the first period, Jacob McLellan of Powassan fired in a puck that hit off the side of the net off a Jacob MacQueen-Spence shot from a sharp angle in beating Hearst’s Liam Oxner.
A couple of ill-timed passes deep in their own zone proved costly for the Voodoos as the Lumberjacks’ Ryan Glazer capitalized on a second-straight chance and wired one past Alex Bugeja from between the hash marks for his fourth of the series, which came at 17:43.
Building on that, this visitors scored again before the frame came to a close with Demers sniping one from point blank range after Bugeja had made an initial save.
Starting the second stanza with a purpose, Powassan potted a pair of tallies before the session was five minutes in to take a 3-2 lead.
After Brett Richardson tied it by completing a crisp cross-ice pass from Owen Fergusson at 2:26, Ben White converted from a similar area as he snapped one in from the left of Oxner while his side was up a skater.
However, Hearst countered rapidly to level the proceedings on the next shift as Lajeunesse tucked in a backhand while hovering around the goal line.
Continuing to trade tallies, the Lumberjacks went back in front as Tyler Patterson pulled up and set-up Lajeunesse to sweep in his second in under a three-minute span.
A great chance to knot the affair once more came in the final moments of the session when the Voodoos’ Easton Robitaille picked off a play at his own blueline and darted down the ice on a breakaway where he made a couple of moves, but a sprawling Oxner was able to keep it from getting past him as he guests hit the intermission with their narrow lead in tact.
Adding a fifth for his club half way through the third, Demers swiped the puck in the neutral zone and cruised in where he made a crafty play on his in-alone chance and neatly tucked it between Bugeja’s legs to make it 5-3.
Getting back to within one with just over five minutes to play, the Voodoos’ Alex Little teed one up for Mike Levin to hammer in from the right side as his power play blast flew into the back of the net.
Despite that, Hearst responded almost immediately with Patterson whipping one off the post and in just 32 seconds later.
That turned out to be the night’s final tally as Hearst now heads home to try and close out the series while Powassan looks to force a Game 6 Friday.
NOJHL East Division semifinal
Hearst Lumberjacks vs. Powassan Voodoos
Hearst leads best-of-seven series 3-1
Game 1: Lumberjacks 4 Voodoos 1
Game 2: Voodoos 4 Lumberjacks 3
Game 3: Lumberjacks 3 Voodoos 0
Game 4: Lumberjacks 6 Voodoos 4
Game 5: Wednesday, April 13 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 6*: Friday, April 15 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 7*: Sunday, April 17 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)