HEARST – Getting three points apiece from Quinton Hill and Tyren Grimsdale, the Hearst Lumberjacks won their third-straight Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest Friday as they bested the Cochrane Crunch 7-5 at Claude Larose Arena.
The visiting Crunch would open the scoring just past the six-minute mark in the first period.
While shorthanded, a falling defender allowed Cochrane to go in on an uncontested two-man breakaway that resulted in Ryan Hunter putting a perfect cross-ice feed on the tape of Tyson Moore on the right side as he promptly picked the corner on Hearst starter Liam Oxner, who had no chance, to give the guests the edge.
Answering back, the Lumberjacks countered with the equalizer before the frame was complete as they flew into the Crunch zone where Jaxon Penner knocked in a rebound off the right pad of Michael Nickolau in the Cochrane net.
The hosts then added another late in the period as Pineshish Whiteduck whipped in his first NOJHL goal with a great shot from the slot.
Second stanza play saw the visitors tie it midway through as Hunter put a backhand in front right to an open that allowed an open Jules Jardine to put in his opening league marker.
However, Hearst answered moments later off a two-on-one as Alexander Christopoulos also finished off his first NOJHL goal.
The Lumberjacks then went to the power play and doubled their lead with the initial tally trend continuing as Zachary Demers walked into a one-timer from the left side.
Back and forth they went as Cochrane clicked on the power play by using some solid passing that resulted in Sebastien Ouimet picking the corner from slot with a quick shot.
Still pressing the pace, Hearst got another following deep pressure in the final minute that saw Hill go top corner to make it 5-3.
However, Cochrane answered that before the period expired with Benjamin Orgil putting in his second of the season at 19:47.
The see-saw affair had Grimsdale join the opening NOJHL goal parade at 5:15 before Olivier Cloutier-Faucher added a tally off a fortunate bounce off the stick of a Cochrane defender and in to put the hosts up by three.
Up a skater, the Crunch got one back as Hunter went top shelf from the right side with 8:41 to play to round out the scoring.
Oxner faced 24 shots in picking up the win while Nickolau was peppered with 50 attempts in defeat.
Tim Horton Events Centre in Cochrane will be the site Saturday as the two clubs meet again in a 7 p.m. start that goes on HockeyTV.com.
Game Photos: Chris Eby