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Salem strikes late in OT as Express rally to edge Gold Miners

ESPANOLA, Ont. – Matais Salem’s second goal of the game, coming with 11.7 seconds left in overtime, lifted the Espanola Express to a thrilling 5-4 come from behind triumph over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest Friday at the Regional Recreation Complex.

First period action saw Bret McInall of the Express pick up the lone marker of the frame as he scored for a third straight outing as well as in his fourth in five games.

Kirkland Lake tied it just past the three-minute mark of the second stanza off the stick of Gregory Trudeau-Paquet, who extended a consecutive game point streak to eight in the process.

Espanola did go back in front at 13:45 as Salem supplied his scored in back-to-back outings to put the home side up 2-1.

However, the Gold Miners struck twice in the final minute of the frame to take a 3-2 lead as Joshua Maine at even strength and Christian Snyder during a late man advantage put the visitors up by one after two periods of play.

Action in the back and forth affair saw Espanola tie it with 6:42 left in regulation as defenceman Hunter Halcrow picked up his first NOJHL marker, which came during a power play chance.

After Trudeau-Paquet put Kirkland Lake back into the lead with 96 seconds left, the Express came right back to force extra time on a McInall effort at 19:38.

Then in extra time, Salem was the hero for the home side as his late effort helped the Express earn the second point for his squad in completing the rally and secure the win.

Joel Rainville made 42 saves to earn the victory for resurgent Espanola, who have won three of their past four at home, while Gregory Brassard’s 33 stops helped Kirkland Lake pick up a point in the standings and move into sole possession of top spot in the overall league standings.