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Paper Kings rally past Eagles

ESPANOLA, Ont. – A four-goal third period outburst sent the Espanola Paper Kings on their way to a 7-5 victory over the Soo Eagles in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest Sunday afternoon at the Regional Recreation Complex.

Sault Ste. Marie began the scoring eight and a half minutes into the matinee when Jack Mortson skated down the right wing, then set-up Brian Fiddes in the faceoff circle, where his wrist shot beat Espanola starter Jake Marois for his 11th goal of the season and 70th career NOJHL point.

Drawing even at 11:35, Liam Bridgeman put the Paper Kings on the board as he took a Jonathan Lush feed, then cut around a defender and made a nice quick deke to his right and lifted a backhand over Soo netminder Kameron Ragon.

The assist for Lush now gives him points in five consecutive contests.

Espanola then took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission thanks to a man advantage marker from defenceman Conor Walton, who snapped a shot through a screen from the top of the left circle.

On the power play heading to the middle stanza, the Eagles converted late into it thanks to Kenny Belanger Jr., jamming in a loose puck off a Chase Tallaire chance.

Belanger Jr., then bagged his second close-range extra-man marker at 3:28 as he shoveled one in from the top of the crease.

A third-straight Soo strike made it 4-2 Eagles a few minutes later with Mortson notching his team-leading 19th of the campaign by picking up a rebound and tucking it past the pad of Marois.

A goaltending change after that saw Creedon Dyck enter for the Paper Kings, and go the rest of the way.

Up a skater themselves in the latter stages of the period, the home side pulled to within one when Lucas Signoretti moved out from the side boards and roofed one on Ragon at 18:12.

In the third, the hosts came out strong to knot the score at 4-4 as Signoretti connected for the second time on the day by sniping one from a sharp angle, 39 seconds into the stanza.

Espanola then regained the lead a little under six minutes later as Kyle den Ouden sent a pass over to Alexander Christopoulos who wired a shot off the crossbar and in.

Breaking it open, the Paper Kings tacked on two more to go up by three, beginning with Christopoulos banging one in while in front, off a rebound from a Signornetti attempt, for the club’s third power play tally of the afternoon.

They then put the game away moments later when Graydon Guthrie darted in alone on a breakaway and deposited his opportunity into the right corner.

Another goalie change came after that with Logan Raffaele coming in for the Soo to play the final seven-plus minutes.

A giveaway in the late going helped the Eagles get one more as Belanger Jr., finished off his first NOJHL hat trick by going upstairs on Dyck with 66 seconds remaining to round out the scoring.

With the win, the Paper Kings improve to 16-12-2-2 on the year, and move two points ahead of the Soo in the West Division standings, who slipped to 16-13-2-0 overall in defeat.