Photos: Paul Gagnon
HEARST, Ont. – Despite falling behind early, the Hearst Lumberjacks roared back with five unanswered goals to collect their 11th consecutive victory, a 5-2 decision over the Espanola Express, in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair Saturday at the Claude Larose Recreation Centre.
Forcing a giveaway helped Espanola get on the board first as they saw Ty McHutchion notch his 19th of the season at 12:54 as his backhand from in close got past Hearst starter Matteo Gennaro.
Special teams helped the Express add another before the opening period came to a close when Kobe Braham darted down the ice on a shorthanded breakaway and ripped a shot into the right corner at 18:49.
In the second stanza though, the highest-scoring team in the NOJHL went to work beginning with Robbie Rutledge collecting his league-best 31st goal as he did some crafty stick in front and tucked one past Espanola netminder Matthew Loney during a man advantage.
Hearst then drew level half way through the proceedings thanks to Raphael Lajeunesse notching his 19th as he buried one from between the hash marks.
Continuing to press, the Lumberjacks took the lead at 15:18 as they saw Andrew Potyk get credit for his first in the NOJHL with solid help from Riley Klugerman and Tyren Grimsdale.
Carrying their 3-2 edge into the third, Tyler Patterson added another for the hosts as he took a pass from Mason Bazaluk and promptly wired one over Loney’s glove at 9:56.
Ryan Glazer then finished off the comeback for Hearst as scored into an empty net in the final moments to wrap-up the home ice victory.
In extending their winning streak, the Lumberjacks raised their totals to a NOJHL-best 62 points as they became the first team in the league this season to reach 30 wins and improve to 30-7-2-0 overall.
In defeat, Espanola slipped to 8-23-2-0 on the year.