GALLERY: Eagles hold off Gold Miners on Fortson’s OT winner

Photos: Justin Cairns

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – A Tyler Fortson marker 45 seconds into overtime saw the Soo Eagles stave off a late comeback by the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners to prevail 4-3 Friday night in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League inter-divisional encounter at Pullar Stadium.

The lone goal of the first period came via the man advantage, eight and a half minutes in, when the Eagles’ Darby McCarthy cranked a blast from the left circle that flew past Gold Miners’ netminder Graydon Mole.

Adding to their lead midway through the match-up, Gabriel Fisher put Sault Ste. Marie ahead by two by cranking in a shot from the right side for his 10th of the campaign.

The Soo built on that at 13:31 when Zach Sweitzer worked a two-man break with Benjamin Pouliot and whipped his chance past Mole.

Getting one back before the intermission, the Gold Miners’ Joseph Bastien-Picard worked his way free in front and smartly picked the bottom left corner on Michael Shelley to make it a 3-1 game after 40 minutes.

In the third, Kirkland Lake got their goalie out for an extra skater late and were rewarded with Bastien-Picard banging in his second of the night, with a minute and a half remaining.

Continuing to press, the Gold Miners got Mole out again and forced overtime with Inde Abresch worked his way into the left circle and ripped the equalizer top shelf with 25 seconds to go in regulation.

In OT, the Soo broke out of their own zone and saw Fortson slam in the game-winner off a crisp cross-ice feed from Landon Stevens to end it in dramatic fashion.

The result sees the Eagles raise their record to 32-20-1-2 and move into a tie with the Espanola Paper Kings for the fourth and final playoff spot in the NOJHL West.

With a point in defeat, Kirkland Lake moves to 10-37-5-2 overall.