SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A Matt Pinder marker with 44 seconds remaining in the second period was the eventual difference maker as the Soo Thunderbirds defeated the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 3-1 Saturday in Game 2 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy championship series at Essar Centre.
After being blanked 3-0 in the opener Friday, the Gold Miners got on the board first as the NOJHL’s leading point producer during the regular season, in Brayden Stortz, notched his ninth goal of the playoffs five and a half minutes into the contest.
Sault Ste. Marie drew level just over 10 minutes later with veteran forward Joey Miller notching the equalizer to even the affair after one period.
The score stayed at 1-1 until late in the middle stanza when Pinder potted the game-winner.
Kirkland Lake goaltender Joe Marcouiller was impressive once again keeping his side in the game despite being out shot 47-18 overall on the night.
The visitors pulled their netminder late in favour of an extra attacker, but the Soo added an empty netter for a second straight night as Matthew Caruso iced it with 15 seconds to go to round out the scoring.
Connor Ryckman made 17 stops to post the win for the Thunderbirds.
For the Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy
Soo Thunderbirds vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-seven series 2-0
Game 1: Sault Ste. Marie 3 Kirkland Lake 0
Game 2: Sault Ste. Marie 3 Kirkland Lake 1
Game 3: Thursday, April 21 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 4: Friday, April 22 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 5*: Sunday, April 24 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
Game 6*: Tuesday, April 26 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 7*: Thursday, April 28 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7:30 p.m. (Essar Centre)
*- if necessary