KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – Sam Ellwood’s second goal of the game, coming 16:03 into triple overtime, gave the Kirkand Lake Gold Miners a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Powassan Voodoos in a must-win Game 5 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division semifinal at Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
The win keeps the Gold Miners season alive as they now trail the best-of-seven series 3-2 with Game 6 going Sunday evening at 7 p.m. at the Powassan Sportsplex.
Kirkland Lake out shot Powassan 11-7 in the first period, but neither goaltender, in Joe Vrbetic of the Voodoos or the Gold Miners Dawson Rodin let one get past them.
However, the visitors were quick to strike in the middle session as Cameron Moore opened the scoring just 21 seconds in with assists going to Ryan Mills and Jacob Peterson-Galema.
Going to the power play midway through the stanza, Powassan went up by a pair thanks to a Brett Shawana marker.
Kirkland Lake countered 65 seconds later though as Ellwood put the home side on the board at 11:17 to make it a 2-1 score after two periods of play.
Battling back to tie, the Gold Miners drew level, three and a half minutes into the third on the some solid work along the boards by Matthew Brassard, who sent the puck in front to Aiden Wagner who knocked in the equalizer from close range.
Kirkland Lake then went in front at 9:07 as Vinny DeSanctis ripped a shot off the post, but Vrbetic could not pick up the puck that bounced into the right corner and allowed DeSanctis to get another crack at it as he buried his second chance from a sharp angle.
Back and forth they went with the Voodoos countering a few shifts later as they forced a turnover by Rodin behind his own net , which allowed Rico Rossi bury the equalizer from the high slot with 7:25 to go and force extra time.
A fast-paced first OT saw neither side convert as it went to an additional session.
Both teams battled on through a second OT with neither side being able to convert to send it to a third extra period.
It was there late in that stanza that Ellwood won it as he came out from behind the net and stuffed in the game-winner between the post and the outstretched pad of Vrbetic to end it and keep his club in contention.
Shots on goal finished 54-51 in favour of Kirkland Lake with Rodin picking up the win and Vrbetic the defeat.
This resulted in the longest NOJHL playoff game since March 18, 2016 when the visiting Gold Miners edged the same Voodoos 2-1 in another lengthy affair that ended 52 seconds into the third OT.
East Division semifinal
No. 2 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners vs. No. 3 Powassan Voodoos
Powassan leads best-of-seven series 3-2
Game 1: Powassan 2 Kirkland Lake 0
Game 2: Powassan 8 Kirkland Lake 3
Game 3: Kirkland Lake 2 Powassan 1
Game 4: Powassan 3 Kirkland Lake 1
Game 5: Kirkland Lake 4 Powassan 3 (3OT)
Game 6: Sunday, March 24 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 7*: Tuesday, March 26 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game Photos courtesy of CapturingTheMoment.ca