KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – A Hunter Atchison goal 3:15 into overtime lifted the Cochrane Crunch to a dramatic 6-5 victory over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Sunday in a back and forth Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division final at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
With the result, the best-of-seven series in now tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Cochrane.
The hometown Gold Miners got things going with the lone tally in the first period as Blake Anderson collected his first of the playoffs at 6:19.
Cochrane would draw level in the early stages of the second stanza when Brenden Van Sweden put one past Kirkland Lake starter Joe Marcoullier at 2:58.
The Gold Miners came right back however and retook the lead less than two minutes later as Marc-Antoine Arseneau’s effort eluded Crunch goaltender Brett Young.
Kirkland Lake kept coming and made it 3-1 at 7:07 during a man advantage opportunity when Logan Fredericks notched his team-leading sixth of the postseason off of assists from Arseneau and Bryden Stortz.
A Cochrane power play allowed them to pull back to within one as Jeremy McNeil picked up his second playoff marker at 10:58.
Building on that, the visitors would tie it and then take the lead late in the period as Aviv Milner leveled the affair at 17:44 while Dustin Cordeiro gave the Crunch the lead just 36 seconds later.
A fortuitous bounce allowed Cochrane to score their fourth unanswered goal six minutes into the final frame as Cordeiro fired an attempt towards the Gold Miners net that deflected off a defender in front and skipped past Marcoullier for his second of the night and league-leading 10th of the postseason.
Jon Marzec had a chance to add to their cushion with 5:53 to go as he was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down on a shorthanded breakaway, but could get his attempt off as he lost control of the puck on his way in.
That play would be huge moving forward as Kirkland Lake made it 5-4 with 2:29 remaining in regulation as Stortz grabbed a rebound at the top of crease, cut left and lifted a backhand over top Young.
Then with their goaltender pulled in favour of an extra attacker the Gold Miners drew level with 7.6 seconds left as Alexander Hester fired a desperation attempt towards the Cochrane net from just inside the blueline that found its way through a maze and past a screened Young to force OT.
Early in the extra session Kirkland Lake came out hard and had a number of quality chances to end it only to be stymied by Young.
Then, as is the case in many playoff games that head to OT, Cochrane capitalized on their lone chance as Cordeiro fed a pass to NOJHL MVP Atchison who made no mistake from the right side ripping a quick one-timer that beat Marcoullier for the game-winning goal and knotting the series at a game apiece.
Milner dished out two assists for the Crunch in the triumph while Stortz and Brandon Wolfe had two helpers each for the Gold Miners in defeat.
Final shots on goal in the contest favoured Cochrane by a 30-27 margin with Young registering the win and Marcoullier the defeat.
East Division final
No. 1 Cochrane Crunch vs. No. 3 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
Game 1: Kirkland Lake 5 Cochrane 2
Game 2: Cochrane 6 Kirkland Lake 5 (OT)
Game 3: Tuesday, April 5 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Game 4: Thursday, April 7 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Game 5: Saturday, April 9 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
Game 6*: Monday, April 11 @ Kirkland Lake 7:30 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac)
Game 7*: Wednesday, April 13 @ Cochrane 7:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
*- if necessary