ESPANOLA, Ont. – A Liam Bridgeman marker, four and a half minutes into the third period, proved to be the game-winner as the Espanola Paper Kings went on to defeat the Powassan Voodoos 4-1 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Sunday matinee at the Regional Recreation Complex.
The triumph for Espanola also secures the fourth and final playoff spot in the NOJHL’s West Division for the club.
After playing a tightly-contested contest Saturday night, that needed a shootout to determine a winner, it was much the same in this one as the two sides battled through a scoreless opening 20 minutes in this one.
Some more close checking was displayed in the second stanza as well, thanks to the efforts of the starting goaltenders, Jake Marois of the Paper Kings and the Voodoos’ Daniel Dirracolo.
Espanola broke the goose egg 15:33 into the frame, off the forecheck, and saw Atley Gringorten make a nifty pass from behind the goal line in front where Jonathan Lush swooped in and lifted it into the open right-hand corner for his 10th tally of the season.
Powassan battled back to tie it in the final minute of the period, just as a power play they were on was expiring.
On the marker, Nicholas Liotino made a nice rush up ice and made a pass to Jack Kelly, who in turn set-up Michael MacLean driving to the net, where he snapped a short side shot by Marois.
Moving to the third, the Paper Kings regained the lead at 4:25 after Blake Peters-Davey chipped the puck past a Voodoos’ defender then raced down the ice and around the net where he put it into the crease and saw Bridgeman rush in and chip it past a sprawled Dirracolo.
In the late going, Powassan pulled their goalkeeper for an extra skater to try and force overtime, but Espanola’s Devin Mauro lifted a long range backhand from his own zone that sailed into the empty net to help secure the victory.
Spencer Horgan than capped out the outcome and seal a place in the postseason with another lengthy empty netter to round out the scoring in the final moments.
The result sees the Paper Kings improve to 27-21-2-3 overall, while with the loss, the Voodoos fall to 36-16-1-0 on the campaign.