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Elliot Lake outlasts Espanola in high-scoring affair

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – An Eric Conley goal with 61 seconds remaining in regulation was the difference as the Elliot Lake Wildcats went on to edge the Espanola Express 7-6 Sunday night in a high-scoring Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair at Centennial Arena.

Espanola started strong by skating out to an early 2-0 lead before the first period was half over.

Bret McInall started the Express off with his franchise-record 25th tally of the season at 5:15 before Connor Tessier put in his sixth a couple of shifts later.

Countering, Elliot Lake with two of their own in the back half of the session as Josh Bifolchi and Tanner Hicks both found the back of the net.

The Wildcats then went in front four and a half minutes into the second stanza as Andrew Maltby supplied his fifth of the campaign.

Down a man later in the frame, Elliot Lake went up 4-2 as Robert Carr struck shorthanded at 9:37.

Battling back, the visitors pulled to within one on a late power play chance that saw Hunter Halcrow finish off a McInall feed at 17:40.

Moving on to the third period, Chris Pedersen put the home side up by a pair as he collected his first NOJHL goal at 7:30 to make it 5-3.

Back and forth they went with Espanola inching closer a minute later as Halcrow added his second as he connected on a power play chance.

Continuing to trade tallies, Elliot Lake made it 6-4 at 10:11 with Hicks picking up another during a man advantage.

However, the Express continued to battle and converted twice in a 36-second span to knot the match-up at 6-6 compliments of Diego Pasula and Leonidis Mihalochristas buried his first of the season.

Then with overtime looming, it was Elliot Lake that found the back of the net for the final time on the evening with Conley knocking in the game-winner late in regulation.

Bifolchi and Noah Minns chipped in with three assists apiece to aid the Wildcats offensive cause while Halcrow added a pair of helpers for Espanola in a four-point night.

Shots on goal favoured the Express 54-44 with Elliot Lake netminder Dominic Boily picking up the win while Espanola starter Joel Rainville suffered the setback.