COCHRANE, Ont. – Mitchell Booth’s first Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff goal proved to be the game-winner as the Cochrane Crunch defeated the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 5-3 Friday in Game 1 of their East Division semifinal at Tim Horton Event Centre.
Kirkland Lake did get off to the start they were looking for as they notched the night’s opening tally 12 and a half minutes into the match-up on a John Serafin marker.
However Cochrane struck twice in a 24-second span late in the first period on markers from Laramie Kostelansky and Austin Stauffer.
The back and forth affair saw the Gold Miners draw level 5:21 into the second stanza thanks to Linden Namagoose then take the lead a few shifts later from Tyler Fyfe, Kirkland Lake’s leading scorer, who had finished up the regular season on a 10-game point streak.
Some more late period heroics helped the Crunch tie it at 3-3 after 40 minutes when Kyle Herbster scored at 19:04.
It stayed even until Booth proved the difference maker with 5:19 remaining in regulation.
The Gold Miners’ pulled their goaltender, Ryan Winter, late in an effort to tie it and force overtime, but Herbster would secure the victory with an empty netter.
Cochrane outshot Kirkland Lake 39-16 overall with Taylor Unruh picking up the win while Winter suffered the narrow setback.
Game 2 of the series goes Saturday at 7:30 p.m. back at the Tim Horton Event Centre.
East Division semifinal
No. 2 Cochrane Crunch vs. No. 3 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Cochrane leads best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Cochrane 5 Kirkland Lake 3
Game 2: Saturday, March 17 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (THEC)
Game 3: Thursday, March 22 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 4: Saturday, March 24 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (JMCC)
Game 5*: Sunday, March 25 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (THEC)
Game 6*: Tuesday, March 27 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (JMCC)
Game7*: Wednesday, March 28 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (THEC)
*- if necessary