ESPANOLA, Ont. – A three-goal, one-assist performance by Zach Trempner helped pace the Espanola Express past the Soo Thunderbirds 6-4 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up Sunday at the Regional Recreation Complex.
A tight-checking opening 20 minutes saw the session go scoreless as the two sides hit the first intermission without a tally.
Things opened up offensively in the middle stanza however with the clubs combining for five goals, including three by the Express.
Sault Ste. Marie opened the scoring at 1:44 as Rylan Clemons connected for a fourth straight outing while giving him points in all six games he has played in since joining the Thunderbirds earlier this month.
Espanola came back to knot the affair at 1-1 at 8:44 off the stick of Trempner, only to see Kurtis Rogers strike right back for the Soo less than a minute later.
Countering quickly themselves, Cameron Walker of the Express levelled the proceedings once more, a mere 12 seconds later.
The home side then took their first lead of the night thanks to Josh Boucher as his eighth of the season made it 3-2 game after two periods of play.
Continuing to trade tallies in the third, the Thunderbirds evened the score yet again as Avery Rebek buried his 11th at 4:38, only to see Espanola go back on top a few shifts later with Trempner tucking in his second of the game and 10th overall.
Then with his squad down a man, Lukas Lyszyk notched a shorthanded effort to give the hosts a two-goal cushion.
Still on the power play though, the Soo answered back thanks to a man advantage marker from Tyler Savard with 92 seconds still to play.
In the end though, Trempner finished off his first career league hat trick before time expired with an empty netter to seal the decision for Espanola.
Express captain Mattias Salem chipped in with three assists in the triumph.
Carson Boutin made 32 saves to record the win for Espanola while Thunderbirds starter Sam Evola faced 33 attempts in defeat.
The NOJHL now enters its holiday break, with league play set to return on January 3, 2020.