ESPANOLA, Ont. – Trailing by four with just over four minutes left in regulation, the Elliot Lake Wildcats stormed back to tie it late in incredible fashion then went on to notch the lone tally in the shootout as they stunned the Espanola Express 8-7 in a thrilling Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair Saturday night at the Regional Recreation Complex.
The Express were on track early as they skated out to a 3-0 lead on first period tallies from tallies from Collin McGuire, Jace Pitawanakwat and Nick Belisle.
Elliot Lake then got on the board at 14:58 of the frame with Eric Conley collecting his 14th of the campaign.
Heading to the second stanza, the Wildcats pulled closer with the lone marker of the session supplied by Caleb Minns seven and a half minutes in.
Action in the third was incredible with goals coming from every direction as the two sides combined to score nine times in the period, including four in succession by Elliot Lake in the final four minutes of regulation.
Owen Tichbourne’s first NOJHL marker started the outburst for Elliot Lake 70 seconds in to tie it before Espanola seemingly put the game away by striking four times on their own to go up 7-3 with 6:28 to play thanks to Lukas Lyszyk, Mitchell Lee, Matais Salem and Bret McInall.
However, the Wildcats roared back late to knot the affair and force overtime with Sean Hagan and Tanner Hicks pulling the visitors back to within two with 3:22 remaining.
Not done there, Connor Taylor struck shorthanded at 18:28 to make it a one-goal game before Noah Minns finished off the furious comeback with just 26 seconds left to force overtime.
The OT was scoreless and extra shots were needed to decide this wildly entertaining affair.
In the shootout, it took four attempts for each side to determine a winner as Noah Minns connected for Elliot Lake on his club’s final chance before Espanola was thwarted on theirs as the Wildcats completed the implausible comeback.
To go with his marker, Conley dished out five assists for the visitors to finish off a six-point night while Lyszyk had a trio of helpers for the hosts giving him four points in total.
Zion Miceli, making his NOJHL debut, earned the win in relief for Elliot Lake stopping 20 of 24 in over 51 minutes of relief as well as all four attempts he saw in the shootout.
Wildcats starter Dominic Boily turned aside four of seven in 13:27 of action.
Joel Rainville faced 43 attempts in defeat for the Express who did pick up one night in the setback.