Wildcats hold off Express rally with double OT win

ELLIOT LAKE – The Elliot Lake Wildcats held off a rally by the Espanola Express before eventually prevailing with a 5-4 win in double overtime Thursday night in a tightly-contested Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up at Centennial Arena.

Achiel Schlepp’s first NOJHL goal five minutes into the match-up gave Espanola the early lead.

Elliot Lake countered with the equalizer off the stick of William Bucsis before Nick Long’s 15th tally of the season made it 2-1 Wildcats just 19 seconds later.

Heading in the middle frame, Logan Fennema struck moments into the second period for the Express to level the proceedings.

However Elliot Lake regained the lead a couple shifts later on another from Bucsis as he upped his tally total to eight on the campaign.

They then added another courtesy of Jacob Kelly to make 4-2 at 8:07 as he picked up his personal career-high18th goal overall this season.

Battling back, Espanola moved back to within one during a man advantage opportunity with Mackenzie MacMillan connecting at 13:22 for his fifth goal as a member of the Express.

The visitors then drew level five and a half minutes into the third when Bryce Patterson picked up his initial league marker.

It remained tied through the remainder of regulation with both clubs picking up a point as they headed to extra time to try a decide a winner.

After a scoreless five-minute first OT the two teams went down to three skaters each in the next OT where Brett Crook ended it for Elliot Lake at the 59-second mark.

Kelly had two assists for the Wildcats in the triumph.

Allan Menary made 31 saves to pick-up up the win for Elliot Lake.

Jacob Hutchings started for the Express and allowed four against on 16 attempts while Adam Scott was stellar in relief despite suffering the OT setback as he turned aside 19 of 20, including a number of quality stops, as his efforts helped his side earn a point on the night.