ESPANOLA, Ont. – A Max Curtis marker in the ninth round of the shootout proved to be the decider as the Espanola Express prevailed 6-5 over the visiting Soo Eagles Friday in a back and forth Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair at the Regional Recreation Complex.
Goals were hard to come by in the first period as the only tally in the session came off the stick of Espanola’s Zachary Matyasik at 1:50 during an early man advantage opportunity.
Things opened up offensively in the second stanza however as the two teams combined for six goals, with each club scoring three times apiece.
Bobby Price and Eric Vanderhoff got the initial two for Sault Ste. Marie before Jackson Legro and Cameron Walker countered for Espanola.
Joel Brandinger then put the Eagles up 3-2 at 13:34 only to see William Whelton notch his initial NOJHL goal, a minute and a half later, to make it 4-3 Express after two.
In the third, Brandinger buried his second of the night and 16th overall at 5:08, but Jaydyn Parnell answered right back for the home side on the next shift.
A late power play helped the Soo force overtime when Skrelja converted with 3:25 remaining in regulation.
Following a scoreless OT, extra attempts were needed to decide things.
In the shootout, Mattias Salem, Zach Trempner, Bradley Brunet and Curtis, who snapped a shot off the post and in connected for Espanola to help them pick up the win while Vanderhoff, Skrelja and Hayden Clark converted for the Eagles out of their nine attempts.
Shots on net through 65 minutes of play favoured the Express by a 43-33 count with Joel Rainville picking up the win while Shane Brancato’s efforts helped to Soo earn a point in defeat.