KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – Rookie goaltender Joe Vrbetic handled all 35 shots he faced to post a shutout in his Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff debut Friday as the Powassan Voodoos blanked the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 2-0 in Game 1 of their East Division semifinal at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
It was a goaltender’s battle through most of the night with the game going scoreless through the first period and deep into the second stanza.
Late in that middle frame, Powassan picked up the eventual game-winner from Tomas Yachmenev as his first of the postseason put the visitors in front at 18:41 with help from Rico Rossi and Clark Allair.
It remained tight the rest of the way before Jacob Peterson-Galema helped secure the road victory with an empty netter in the final minute of regulation.
For Vrbetic, 14 of his 35 stops came in the final period as he backstopped the Voodoos to the series-opening triumph.
Kirkland Lake starter Dawson Rodin saved 17 or 18 in suffering the narrow defeat.
The best-of-seven affair resumes Sunday at 7 p.m. back in Kirkland Lake.
East Division semifinal
No. 2 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners vs. No. 3 Powassan Voodoos
Powassan leads best-of-seven series 1-0
Game 1: Powassan 2 Kirkland Lake 0
Game 2: Sunday, March 17 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 3: Wednesday, March 20 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 4: Thursday, March 21 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 5*: Saturday, March 23 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 6*: Sunday, March 24 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 7*: Tuesday, March 26 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game Photos courtesy of CapturingTheMoment.ca