ESPANOLA, Ont. – Robert Maulucci picked an opportune time to notch his first Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League goal as his marker three and a half minutes into overtime lifted the Espanola Express to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Elliot Lake Wildcats Friday at the Regional Recreation Complex in front of close to 400 fans.
Espanola also started strong, skating out to an early 2-0 cushion on Robert Brisson’s initial league tally midway through the first period while Lukas Lyszyk put the home side up be a pair at 12:23.
Elliot Lake came right back though 66 seconds later to get on the board compliments of Eric Vanderhoff.
Action in the next session saw the Wildcats turn the tables as they outscored the Express 2-1 in the session.
Jonathan Giancotti joined the first NOJHL goal club at 5:09 to tie it for the guests before Espanola’s Jonah Devereux also earned membership in the group halfway through the period.
It was more Vanderhood in the late going as his second of the evening levelled the proceedings at 3-3.
Back and forth they went in the third, with Owen Kruse picking up his first for Elliot Lake before a Bradley Brunet snap shot from the left of the crease drew Espanola even with 2:26 remaining in regulation.
Both clubs had chances in extra time, but it was Maulucci who capped off the win for the Express after the puck hit off a Wildcats defender and right to him as he buried the decider from close range to give the hosts the win.
Shots on goal on the night favoured the Express 51-35 with Joel Rainville earning the victory while Parker Simpson’s 46 stops helped the Wildcats pick up a point in the loss.