Elliot Lake rallies to extend series vs. Sault Ste. Marie



Release Date: Friday, April 8, 2016

Elliot Lake rallies to extend series vs. Sault Ste. Marie

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – A deft deflection by Chad Lopez 7:57 into overtime was the difference as the Elliot Lake Wildcats stormed back from an early three-goal deficit to shock the Soo Thunderbirds 4-3 in Game 4 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division final Friday at Centennial Arena.

With the result the Thunderbirds lead in the best-of-seven set goes to 3-1 with the series heading now heading back to Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie for Game 5 Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Looking to put an early end to the Wildcats season, Sault Ste. Marie stormed out to a quick 3-0 lead before the contest was eight minutes old and chased Wildcats starter Aaron Mackay in favour of Al Rogers the rest of the way.

Matthew Mitchell’s fourth of the playoffs began the offensive outburst for the Soo at 3:03 while teammate Michael Caruso collected another for the visitors just 15 seconds later.

The Thunderbirds’ added another during a man advantage opportunity at 7:40 with Jaren Bellini putting an end to Mackay’s night.

The goaltending change sparked Elliot Lake as they came back to tally twice before the period was complete starting with Shane Woolsey’s first of the postseason at the midway mark of the frame and Ty Hannaford’s fourth at 18:41.

Both teams would tighten up defensively in the middle stanza as neither side would manage to score.

The Wildcats then tied things up midway through the third as Spencer MacLean’s effort eluded Soo starter Connor Ryckman to knot the affair at 3-3 and force extra time.

In OT, Elliot Lake staved off elimination and completed their comeback as Troy Button’s shot for the right point was cleverly redirected by Lopez from a sharp angle past Ryckman to extend the series while handing the T-Birds their first playoff loss in 2016 in the process.

Rogers was flawless in relief for the Wildcats stopping all 39 shots fired his way in earning the win.

Mackay allowed the three against on none attempts.

Ryckman turned aside 41 of 45 in a losing cause for the Soo.

NOJHL West Division final
No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds vs. No. 2 Elliot Lake Wildcats
Sault Ste. Marie leads best-of-seven series 3-1
Game 1: Sault Ste. Marie 3 Elliot Lake 2 (OT)
Game 2: Sault Ste. Marie 5 Elliot Lake 0
Game 3: Sault Ste. Marie 5 Elliot Lake 0
Game 4: Elliot Lake 4 Sault Ste. Marie 3 (OT)
Game 5: Saturday, April 9 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7:30 p.m. (Essar)
Game 6*: Monday, April 11 @ Elliot Lake 7 p.m. (Centennial)
Game 7*: Tuesday, April 12 @ Sault Ste. Marie 7 p.m. (Essar)
*- if necessary