Photos: Helene Rancourt
ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – With their season on the line, the Elliot Lake Red Wings rallied from a two-goal deficit and pulled out a dramatic 4-3 double overtime victory over the Blind River Beavers Tuesday night in Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff series at Centennial Arena.
The result evens the best-of-three affair at a game apiece, setting the stage for a third and deciding contest Wednesday evening in Blind River at 7p.m.
Notching the opening tally of the match-up, Blind River’s Sam McCue split the Elliot Lake defence and had a chance to score, but was stopped by goaltender Cameron Smith, only to see the Beavers’ Alex Tingay pounce quickly to back hand in the rebound at 7:14.
The visitors had another quality opportunity to extend their early lead on a two-man break, but Smith was equal to the task to keep it at 1-0.
There would be no further scoring in the session as the clubs hit the first intermission with the guests holding their slim lead.
Play in the second stanza saw the Red Wings draw level midway through as Quinn Gavin-White whipped one upstairs from the right circle off a face off win.
Coming back to retake the lead a couple of shifts later, Blind River’s Meguire Naughton was there to knock in a loose puck, following a play made by a diving Jesse Dupuis.
A two-man advantage helped the Beavers go up by a pair later in the period thanks to Caleb Minns firing one into the top shelf with a solid wrist shot from right circle at 15:42.
Getting one back prior to the break, the Red Wings came out on a rush in the final minute of the frame as saw Tomas Palandra fire the puck towards the net from a sharp angle where it hit off a Blind River player and slid past goaltender Gavin Disano at 19:37.
In the third, knowing their season was on the line, Elliot Lake drew level after breaking out of their own zone and saw Ryan Daponte put a feed through the crease where Alex Antoine won a race to the puck against a defender and tapped in the equalizer with 11:20 left in regulation.
End-to-end they went in the back half of the session with no furthers goals scored to send it to extra time to determine a winner.
After the first additional period failed to decide the outcome, the clubs entered another break before venturing back out on the ice for a second OT.
There, Elliot Lake completed their comeback at 5:23 when Cameron Dial sent a pass across the blueline to Ethan Mercer, who calmly waited and sent a high wrister from the right point that sailed into the net with Red Wings’ Matthew Shulist and Silas Crawford jammed in front of Disano and both trying to get a piece of the puck before it went into the net to end it.
Game 3 can be seen live on HockeyTV.com.
NOJHL West quarter-final
Blind River Beavers vs. Elliot Lake Red Wings
Best-of-three series tied 1-1
Game 1: Blind River 6 Elliot Lake 1
Game 2: Elliot Lake 4 Blind River 3 (2OT)
Game 3: Wednesday, April 6 @ Blind River 7 p.m. (Community Centre)