Crunch collects 5-3 win over Wildcats

COCHRANE, Ont. – A Nicolas Flanders goal with 7:22 remaining in regulation broke a tie game as the Cochrane Crunch went on to defeat the Elliot Lake Wildcats 5-3 in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up Thursday at Tim Horton Event Centre.

The visiting Wildcats gained the upper hand early in the contest notching the night’s initial tally 4:16 in on Evan Spencer’s 11th goal of the season in what was the only marker in the opening 20 minutes.

William Bucsis had one of the assists on the play, giving him 20 on the year, which is currently the second-most in the NOJHL, behind only Powassan’s Tyler Gilmour’s 21.

A free-wheeling middle stanza saw the two sides score five times, including three by Cochrane, to level the proceedings at 3-3 after two.

The Crunch started the offensive outburst at 2:43 to tie it as Alex Brisson buried a Connor Lovie feed to knot the affair at 1-1.

After Brett Crook put Elliot Lake back at top a couple shifts later, Cochrane’s Kyle Herbster connected on the power play at 8:43 as he collected his 10th goal of the campaign.

Austin Whelan gave the Crunch their first lead of the evening five minutes later only to see Spencer strike once more, for his 12th overall, 55 seconds later to even it at 3-3 and see Cochrane replace starter Shayne Battler with Taylor Unruh the rest of the way.

Flanders would then break the tie in the third before Austin Caza added some insurance with 5:26 to go to round out the scoring.

Lovie finished with two assists on the night as the Crunch captain ran a modest point streak to three along the way.

Crook chipped in with a couple of helpers for Elliot Lake to finish up with a three-point night.

Battler started and made 13 stops on 16 attempts with Unruh handling all five shots he saw in over 30 minutes of work to pick-up the win.

Wildcats goaltender Parker Simpson also allowed three against, but on 27 shots before giving way to Logan Sawka, who suffered the loss in relief in handling nine of the 11 pucks fired his way.

With the result Cochrane improved to 10-8-0-0 and Elliot Lake slipped to 8-13-1-0 overall.