QUINTE WEST, Ont. – A Lucas Theriault goal in the seventh round of the shootout proved to be the difference maker as Team Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West rallied for a 2-1 come from behind victory over Maritime Hockey League South in their opening game of the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge at Duncan McDonald Memorial Gardens in Trenton.
An early power play helped the MHL side open the scoring just past the two-minute mark of the frame as Jaden Mason stuffed in a loose puck past a sprawled Garret Boyonoski (Blind River Beavers) in the Team West net.
The two-period, 20-minute-per frame format for each contest saw the NOJHLers carry a man advantage over to the final session, but they could not capitalize.
Team West did put one in midway through the session, but it was deemed by the officials to have been knocked in with a high stick, so the score stayed 1-0 MHL.
They did come back a few minutes later though to notch the equalizer with 7:23 remaining when Theriault fed Zach Snow (Rayside-Balfour Canadians) at the left point who fired a shot on towards the goal that was knocked in by Kaidan McDonald (Soo Thunderbirds).
NOJHL West continued to press and came close to going ahead but were foiled as an attempt beat MHL South netminder Alec MacDonald, but rang off the post and out.
They continued to press the pace throughout the rest of regulation, but could not solve MacDonald as the match-up went directly to a shootout.
There, after three rounds failed to see a goal scored, Noah Boman (Soo Thunderbirds) snapped one past MacDonald, but Zach Falck did likewise for the MHL as he went top shelf on Boyonoski in the next chances.
After a couple more saves by the netminders, Theriault gave the NOJHL the edge once more as he cut in from the left side and neatly tucked the puck between the legs of MacDonald and in.
Needing to score, to keep it going the MHL was thwarted on a Boyonowski pad save to end it.
Boyonoski made 23 saves in regulation and six more in the shootout to record the win while MacDonald had 27 stops through 40 minutes and five additional saves in extra attempts to help his side earn a point.
Team West, made up of players from the NOJHL’s West Division, return to game action later today as they take on OJHL Oates at 7 p.m.
The NOJHL’s other competing side, comprised of those from the East Division play their first game in the 12-team event at 5:20 p.m. as they take on the Martin St. Louis Division selects from the Quebec AAA Junior Hockey League.
All Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge games are streamed online at HockeyTV.com.
NOTES: Teams winning games in regulation are awarded three points and pick up two for a shootout triumph, while squads who fall in extra shots earn one point.
Photo credit: Christian Bender, OJHL Images