Photos: Sudbury Light Event Photography
SUDBURY, Ont. – The Cochrane Crunch saw goaltender Marcus Ouellet turn in a tremendous performance in backstopping his side to a 4-3 shootout triumph over the Espanola Paper Kings Wednesday afternoon at the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Showcase at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.
The efforts of Ouellet, who was busy throughout the opening session, as well as Espanola netminder Creedon Dyck, kept the game scoreless through 20 minutes.
On the power play early in the second stanza, the Paper Kings clicked when Atley Gringorten took a Yan Bessette pass and whipped it in from between the hash marks.
Countering quickly, the Crunch drew level on the next shift as Tyler Curnew collected his opening NOJHL tally after being sent in alone on a breakaway and ripped a shot into the top right-hand corner.
Picking up a two-man advantage, Cochrane went to work right off the draw.
There some crisp movement eventually saw Cameron Frost event corral a bouncing puck prior to him firing it over Dyck’s shoulder while parked at the left of the net.
Regrouping midway through the match-up, Espanola tied it at 2-2 as they came in on a two-on-one where Blake Peters-Davey kept control on the left side and cut across the crease before eventually sliding one into the open corner.
The Paper Kings then went back in front prior to the second intermission thanks to Jack Lynes connecting at 15:45 as he finished off a goal-mouth scramble following a couple of cracks at it.
A free-wheeling start to the third period saw end-to-end odd-man opportunities, but neither side could capitalize.
A few more big point-blank stops by Ouellet kept his club within striking distance.
Then, up a skater with under eight minutes to play in regulation, Liam Boswell of the Crunch won a draw back to Blake Menard at the point where he sent an attempt towards the net that Boswell neatly redirected in to level the score at 3-3.
Heading to extra time to try and determine a winner, neither side did get the difference maker, thus it went to the shootout to figure things out.
There Frost made a nice move on a deke wide to his left and scored to give Cochrane the edge.
Then after Ouellet stymied another Espanola attempt, Crunch captain Will Stewart skated in at full speed and proceeded to wire one top shelf to end it.
The victory for Cochrane was their third of the season as they surpassed their win total from 2021-22 and improved to 3-7-1-0 on the campaign.
Meanwhile in defeat, the Paper Kings fell to 5-4-1-1 overall.