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GALLERY: Elliot Lake holds off Espanola

ESPANOLA, Ont. – Kaden Laverdiere’s second goal of the game, coming in the latter stages of the middle stanza, stood up as the game-winner as the Elliot Lake Red Wings held off the Espanola Express 4-3 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest Sunday at the Regional Recreation Complex.

Also notching the afternoon’s opening tally 3:46 into the first period, Laverdiere connected for Elliot Lake by banging in a rebound from the top of the crease for his 10th tally of the season.

The score stayed 1-0 Red Wings into the second session where some early pressure by Espanola resulted in a goal 36 seconds in as an unmarked Atley Gringorten banged one in from in close.

Regaining the lead at 8:22, Ethan Mercer of Elliot Lake slammed in a puck put off the end boards by Kjell Osborne that bounced right back out front to give the guests a 2-1 lead.

Matthew Shulist then made it 3-1 Red Wings as he came in all alone on netminder Matthew Loney on a lengthy breakaway and put an attempt between the legs at 14:28.

They then took a 4-1 lead into the second intermission thanks to another from Laverdiere when he powered his way down the right wing and fired a low shot into the corner.

Battling back in the third, the Express struck twice in a span of a minute to make it interesting.

Jack Thor potted the first one at 8:31 as he banked a play down the ice from his own zone that Elliot Lake goalkeeper Cameron Smith mishandled and saw the puck find its way past him and into the net.

Buoyed by the gift goal, Express came right back and notched another with Thor hammering one in from the slot with still over a half a period to play.

However, Smith and the rest of the Red Wings, regained their focus from there and held on to preserve to road win.

With the final result, the Elliot Lake victory put them six points clear of Espanola in the race for the final playoff spot in the NOJHL’s West Division.