COCHRANE, Ont. – The Espanola Express got a pair of goals from Cameron Anklewich along with a shorthanded marker and an assist from Nathan Viberg to help them defeat the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 4-3 Saturday afternoon in Game No. 8 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Polar Bear Classic preseason tournament at the Tim Horton Event Centre.
Anklewich, the Express captain, led his club in the opening 20 minutes as he found the back of the net twice to put them up by two before the contest was 15 minutes old.
Kirkland Lake got one back before the session was complete as Kevin Ford connected on the power play at 18:40.
Special teams allowed Espanola to go up 4-1 in the middle stanza when Nathan Viberg buried his attempt on a shorthanded breakaway at 4:56 while teammate Dominik Lavergne converted during a man advantage opportunity nine and a half minutes later.
The Gold Miners got a late tally in the waning moments of the second to give them some momentum heading into the third as Ashton Amaya fired one past Express netminder Jeff Veitch.
Austin Ramirez added another for Kirkland Lake with 13:34 to go to make it a one-goal game, but Espanola starter Shane Lippincott shut the door the rest of the way as part of a 16-save performance in the third period alone.
Final shots on net in the match-up favoured the Gold Miners by a 46-33 count with Lippincott earning the win and Veitch the loss.
Of note Stavros Soilis made his Miners debut, wearing number 8.
A couple more Polar Bear Classic games will wrap-up round robin play Saturday evening.
The host Cochrane Crunch meet the Gold Miners at 10:30 p.m. after Espanola squares off with the Kingston Voyageurs (OJHL) at 8:30 p.m. to determine first overall in the five-team event.
The top four teams following round robin competition will advance to the semifinals Sunday with the top seed taking on the No. 4 ranked club at 10 a.m. while the second and third place sides will face-off at noon.
Sunday’s championship game will feature the semifinal winners meeting up at 7 p.m. back in Cochrane.
Polar Bear Classic Schedule/Results
@ Tim Horton Event Centre – Cochrane, Ont.
Thursday, Sept. 1
Iroquois Falls 5 Espanola 4
Kingston (OJHL) 3 Cochrane 2
Friday, Sept. 2
Cochrane 5 Iroquois Falls 4
Kingston (OJHL) 4 Kirkland Lake 2
Iroquois Falls 3 Kirkland Lake 2
Espanola 6 Cochrane 5
Saturday, Sept. 3
Kingston (OJHL) 4 Iroquois Falls 1
Espanola 4 Kirkland Lake 3
Kingston (OJHL) vs. Espanola 8:30 p.m.
Cochrane vs. Kirkland Lake 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 4
Semifinal A: 4th round robin vs. 1st round robin 10 a.m.
Semifinal B: 3rd round robin vs. 2nd round robin 12 p.m.
Final: Semifinal A winner vs. Semifinal B winner 7 p.m.