SUDBURY – A trio of Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League games Friday saw the Sudbury Nickel Barons upend the Abitibi Eskimos 5-3 in a neutral site contest in Timmins, the visiting North Bay Trappers withstand a furious third period comeback attempt by the Espanola Rivermen to win 6-4 and the Soo Thunderbirds roll in a 9-1 romp over the Blind River Beavers on home ice.
SUDBURY NICKEL BARONS 5 ABITIBI ESKIMOS 3 – Sudbury struck for four third period goals to put an end to a five-game winless drought with the victory in the contest held at McIntyre Arena in Timmins.
The two teams exchanged efforts in the opening period with Giovanni Foschia scoring early for the Nickel Barons and Brenden Locke, with a man advantage effort late, countering for the Eskimos.
Abitibi took a 2-1 lead after two thanks to Erik Robichaud’s first of the campaign at 3:25.
In the third, Ryan Punkari tied it the early going finding the back of the net against Abitibi starter Sylvain Morin at the 31-second mark.
August Jareki then put Sudbury in front three minutes later while Dylan Callaghan potted the eventual winner at 9:03.
The Eskimos Brady Clouthier pulled his side to within one with 7:13 to go, but Foschia’s second of the night in the final minute secured the Nickel Barons triumph as they improved to 3-8 overall.
Shots on goal in the match-up favoured Sudbury 39-31 with Andrew Lefebvre earning the win and Miron suffering the setback as Abitibi dipped to 3-3-0-2 in league play.
SOO THUNDERBIRDS 9 BLIND RIVER BEAVERS 1 – The hometown Thunderbirds jumped out to a quick start and never trailed en route to the one-sided triumph over the Beavers.
They grabbed a 3-0 lead by the midway mark of the opening period thanks to a pair of Matthew Mitchell tallies sandwiched around one by Brett Jeffries, who connected in his first game in a Sault Ste. Marie uniform.
Blind River captain Samuel Wilbur put his side on the board before the opening session was out, but the T-Birds continued their onslaught in the middle stanza tacking on four more markers to lead by six after 40 minutes.
Joey Miller and Gavin Burbach’s league-leading 11th of the season made it 5-1 with Nathan Hebert getting into the act finding the back of the net twice to put Sault Ste. Marie in full control.
The Thunderbirds then finished it off in the third with Riley Bordin and Hebert adding another to finish off his hat-trick to close out their big offensive night.
Rookie netminder Brian Kment improved to 4-0 on the season making 13 stops in earning the win.
Braeden Turco started for the visitors before giving way to Dylan Knox after the fifth Sault goal as the duo combined to face 47 shots in the loss.
With the victory the Thunderbirds won for the third straight outing and the seventh in eight starts improving to 8-2 overall while also moving into sole possession of first place in the NOJHL standings, two points clear of idle Kirkland Lake who do hold a pair games in hand. Blind River meanwhile slipped to 3-6 in defeat.
NORTH BAY TRAPPERS 6 ESPANOLA RIVERMEN 4 – Kyle Baril’s third goal of the night with 5:30 remaining proved to be the winner as North Bay put an end to a three-game losing streak and won for the first time on the road this season in the triumph over the Rivermen at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
The Trappers jumped out to a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes thanks to two markers from Baril and one by Jake Staples with Brandon Janke adding one for the Rivermen.
The lone effort of the middle frame saw Ryan Demyen find the back of the net midway through to put North Bay up 4-1 heading to the third.
In that final session, Espanola came out flying and quickly pulled to within one as Duane Wainman and Robert Smythe connected just 65 seconds apart.
Brennen Dubchak then tied things up at the eight-minute mark as he scored on the power play and tallied in a NOJHL-high sixth straight contest.
The Trappers managed to regroup in the late going with Baril striking to complete his hat-trick and notch his team-leading second game-winner.
Henry Yawit added some insurance in the final seconds as he scored into an empty net to wrap-up the night’s scoring.
Alex Dajia aided the Trappers by dishing out a pair of assists in the triumph.
Dustin Hummel of North Bay picked up the win turning aside 28 of 32 attempts helping his side improve to 3-6-0-2 on the season.
Alex Chandler saw 23 shots in defeat as his side dipped to 6-3 in the standings as they suffered their first loss on home ice.
Two more tilts are on the league slate Saturday with Blind River at home to North Bay while Espanola visits Elliot Lake in a pair of 7:30 p.m. starts.