NOJHL playoff preview: East semifinal – Kirkland Lake Gold Miners vs. Powassan Voodoos

SUDBURY, Ont. – One of the highly anticipated Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League semifinals will commence Friday at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake as the hometown Gold Miners welcome the Powassan Voodoos for Game No. 1 of their best-of-seven East Division series.

Both clubs have hoisted the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy, emblematic of being NOJHL champions in recent years.

The Voodoos captured their first league crown back in 2017 while the Gold Miners did likewise in 2014.

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Of the eight times the two clubs met during the course of the regular season, four of the contests were decided by just one goal while three more were determined by only two tallies, that featured a pair of them finished off with empty net markers.

It was close overall with each team coming away victorious on four occasions in their 2018-19 get togethers.

Being the home side also helped as both squads won three times apiece in their own venues.

The tally total saw Kirkland Lake collect 23 goals while Powassan notched 21 in regulation, and another via the shtootout.

Neither side featured a player with more than one game-winning goal during the season set.

SCORING: A well-balanced attack saw nine Kirkland Lake skaters register four points or more against Powassan this season.

Leading the club were Vinny DeSanctis and Joshua Maine as that duo had six points each vs. the Voodoos.

Next were the trio of Sam Ellwood, Noah Cauchi and Gabriel LeBlanc with five points apiece.

For Powassan, Tomas Yachmenev, Cade Herd and Joe Whittet were all seven-point men against the Miners.

Whittet and rookie Gabinien paced the squad with four goals against them.

Overall, veteran forward Gregory Trudeau-Paquet led Kirkland Lake offensively with 53 points on 27 goals and 26 assists.

In a combined 125 NOJHL regular season and playoff outings, Trudeau-Paquet has scored 70 times and helped set-up 70 others.

Pacing Powassan offensively was Herd, who notched 23 markers and dished out 32 helpers.

He too is a veteran NOJHLer and in a total of 163 contests, Herd has 57 goals and 99 assists to his credit.

GOALTENDERS: Gold Miners’ goaltenders Gregory Brassard and Dawson Rodin both posted two victories apiece over Powassan while the Voodoos Joe Vrbetic was 3-3 and Christian Cicigoi had a win and loss against Kirkland Lake.

Rodin led all league netminders in goals-against average at 2.34 while Brassard sat fifth at 2.50.

In all, the duo produced 33 victories this season.

Vrbetic and Cicigoi matched the wins mark for Powassan at 33.

SPECIAL TEAMS: The power play saw the Gold Miners go 4-28 against their series opponent while the Voodoos were 4-25.

Neither team collected a shorthanded marker in their eight meetings.

East Division semifinal
No. 2 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners vs. No. 3 Powassan Voodoos
Best-of-seven series
Game 1: Friday, March 15 @ Kirkland Lake 8 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 2: Sunday, March 17 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 3: Wednesday, March 20 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 4: Thursday, March 21 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 5*: Saturday, March 23 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
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)
*-if necessary

With files from NOJHL Statistician/Historian David Harrison