COCHRANE, Ont. – The Cochrane Crunch saw Zach Wickson post the shutout while Matthew Minichiello notched both goals in the contest to help lead their side to a 2-0 triumph over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in the third and deciding game of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division quarter-final affair Sunday at Tim Horton Events Centre.
With the victory, the Crunch now move on to meet the No. 1 seeded Powassan Voodoos in a best-of-seven NOJHL East Division semifinal series.
Plenty of chances in the first frame Sunday saw Kirkland Lake outshoot Cochrane 17-16 in the session, but neither side was able to convert offensively.
Picking up a power play early in second stanza, the Crunch would open the scoring as Jordan Fielding fed Michichilleo at the top of the right faceoff circle where he whipped a shot through a crowd in front that sailed past Gold Miners’ goalkeeper Kohl Reddy at 2:12 in what proved to be the eventual game-winner.
Neither side would connect through the rest of the period as the hosts took their 1-0 lead into the second intermission.
In the third, Kirkland Lake pushed the tempo in an effort to get the equalizer, including pulling their goalkeeper in the final minute for an extra attacker, but Minichiello sealed the victory with a long-range empty netter with 30 seconds left.
Wickson finished with 31 stops to post his first NOJHL postseason shutout and send the hosts to their upcoming match-up with Powassan.
Gold Miners’ goaltender Kohl Reddy was solid as well, finishing with 41 saves in the season-ending setback.
NOJHL East Division quarter-final series
No. 4 Cochrane Crunch vs. No. 5 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Cochrane wins best-of-three series 2-1
Game 1: Gold Miners 4 Crunch 3 (OT)
Game 2: Crunch 6 Gold Miners 4
Game 3: Crunch 2 Gold Miners 0