Photos: Northern Lights Photography
HEARST, Ont. – The Powassan Voodoos built up a big lead by the midway point of the contest, then withstood an early third period comeback bid by the Hearst Lumberjacks, before eventually prevailing 8-4 Saturday in the opening game of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division semifinal at Claude Larose Recreation Centre.
It was Powassan who notched the initial tally of the series as Michael MacLean started a rush up ice midway through the first period and while battling in front, saw Ryan Patrick jam one past Hearst starter Ethan Dinsdale.
Adding another, the Voodoos’ Nicholas Liotino went to the net from the left side and sent a backhand by Dinsdale, during a man advantage opportunity at 14:31.
The visitors then extended their lead a few minutes into the second stanza as Chase Strychaluk knocked down a clearing attempt then set-up Tucker Shields from behind the goal line, who quickly buried his chance from the top of the left circle.
Tacking on another, Powassan put an end to Dinsdale’s night after Alex Little used a quick give-and-go with Liam Serviss and sent a shot into the right corner midway through the contest.
Continuing to press, the Voodoos greeted Lumberjacks’ back-up Kaleb Papineau with a fifth marker as Kaedyn Long connected off another turnover, which allowed him to lift in a back hand at 11:55.
After Papineau made a point-blank stop, Hearst countered in transition and finally solved Kannon Flageolle in the other net when Adam Shillinglaw snapped one in from the slot late in the session.
A fleury of activity to begin the third saw the Lumberjacks strike three times in the opening two minutes to make it a one-goal game.
Mathieu Comeau began the outburst with a close-range tap-in during an early power play.
Coming right back off the draw, Jett Mintenko connected 15 seconds later as he beat Flageolle from a sharp angle on the left side.
They then saw Shillingshaw supply another at 1:57 as he cranked in a one-timer from the point after being teed up by Benjamin Thornley-Hall.
Regrouping, Powassan went back up by a pair a couple of shifts later when Thomas Gazich went in alone on a breakaway and made a crafty move prior to converting with a top corner effort on Papineau.
The Voodoos then put the game away with eight and a half minutes to play when Shields struck on the power play with a sharp wrister from the left side for his second of the night.
Chase Thompson then completed the road victory by putting one through Papineau while on a sharp angle with 5:40 remaining to round out the scoring.
Game 2 goes Sunday at 7 p.m. back in Hearst and on HockeyTV.com.
NOJHL East Division semifinal
Hearst Lumberjacks vs. Powassan Voodoos
Game 1: Voodoos 8 Lumberjacks 4
Game 2: Sunday, March 26 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 3: Tuesday, March 28 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 4: Wednesday, March 29 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 5*: Friday, March 31 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Game 6*: Sunday, April 2 @ Powassan 7 p.m. (Powassan Sportsplex)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 4 @ Hearst 7 p.m. (Claude Larose Recreation Centre)
Powassan leads best-of-seven series 1-0