Photos: Marc-André Longval
HEARST, Ont. – A well-balanced attack saw the Hearst Lumberjacks get goals from five different skaters in a 5-3 triumph over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Friday in an entertaining back and forth Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair at Claude Larose Community Centre.
Coming out quickly from their own zone on a rush helped Hearst get one as Raphael Lajeunesse was the recipient of a feed up the left wing where he darted down and buried a shot into the top right hand corner from the left face-off dot, eight and a half minutes into the contest.
Getting that back before the opening frame came to a close, Kirkland Lake used some crisp puck movement on a four-on-three man advantage that saw Ryan Evenhuis put a perfect cross-ice pass on the tape of Nicklas Albrecht as he promptly whipped a shot past Lumberjacks goalkeeper Liam Oxner.
The home side regained the lead early in the middle session off some nice work that helped Liam McDonald put one towards the net from the right side of the blueline, that hit a skate and went right to an open Bryden Palfi, who quickly converted from the left side.
The assist for McDonald was his first NOJHL point.
After some sustained pressure by Hearst, the Gold Miners regrouped and got the equalizer at 6:45 with Evenhuis whipping one past Oxner from the top of the right circle.
Picking up a man advantage a few shifts later, the Lumberjacks went back in front as some quick, crisp passing helped defenceman Jaden Raad move in a bury a rebound off a Dylan Ford chance beating Keaton Lyons, who was making his NOJHL debut in net for the Gold Miners.
Not done there, the hosts kept coming and saw Mathieu Comeau skate in and fire a shot that slipped through the pads of Lyons and slowly trickled across the goal line.
Late in the second, Kirkland Lake clicked on the power play as Andronique Stepanian was left unmarked between the hash marks where he ripped a shot, glove side, to bring the guests closer with a period to play.
Blasting one through a maze gave Alexandre Blais a goal in his NOJHL debut to help put Hearst up 5-3 with over 15 minutes to play.
The teams traded opportunities at both ends the rest of the way, but no further goals were scored before time ran out.
Oxner made 25 saves to pick up his 30th league victory while Lyons was peppered with 48 shots against in defeat to commence his league career.