ESPANOLA—Mack Boyce’s first goal of the season, 3:11 into the first overtime, propelled the Espanola Rivermen to a 4-3 come from behind victory over the Sudbury Nickel Barons Friday night in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play at the Regional Recreation Complex.
With the win the Rivermen secured the No. 3 overall seed in the upcoming playoffs and confirmed that they will meet the same Nickel Barons in a best-of-seven quarter-final series.
Sudbury struck for two tallies from Jonathon Lavigne in a 34-second span to go up a pair before the midway mark of the opening period.
After Espanola’s Daniel Robertson connected on the power play at 13:25, the Nickel Barons’ Austin Veleke chased Rivermen starter Marc Terriault after just 20 minutes as he found the back of the net late in the frame.
Kevin Labelle came in to start the second and the move paid off as Connor Gilmartin started the come back for the home side scoring twice, once in the first minute along with another in the final minute, to level the proceedings.
After a scoreless third extra time was required when Boyce buried the game-winner and his first marker in an Espanola uniform to give his side the triumph and nail down the third seed and a postseason date with Sudbury.
Blake Peavey and Brennen Dubchak dished out a pair of assists to aid the cause of the winning side.
Labelle registered the win in relief stopping all 19 attempts he faced.
Andrew Lefevbre turned aside 24 of 28 he saw in a losing cause in which his club picked up a point.
The NOJHL announced Sunday its schedule for the quarter-final playoff series between the Espanola Rivermen and Sudbury Nickel Barons.
Due to a number of arena conflicts and ice availability the best-of-seven affair will actually see No. 6 Sudbury serve as the home team for the opener even though No. 3 Espanola is the higher seeded squad.
Game 1 will go today, Wednesday, March 12, at McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff at 7:30 pm.
The Rivermen will in turn then host games 2 and 3 on Friday, March 14 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, March 16 at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.
Game 4, which goes at 7:30 pm on Wednesday, March 19, also features another potential ice issue with the contest either being held at the Davies Community Centre in Walden or back at McClelland Arena.
The venue for that match-up will be confirmed as soon as it is finalized.
The Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands Recreation Centre in Little Current will be the site of game 5 in the series if required. It will be held Friday, March 21 at 7:30 pm.
If necessary, game 6 is slated for Sunday, March 23 at McClelland Arena at 7:30 pm. Should a seventh and deciding game be needed, it will be staged back in Espanola on Wednesday, March 26 at 7:30 pm.
In other NOJHL match-ups, the No. 1 Soo Thunderbirds are set to meet the No. 8 Blind River Beavers while the No. 2 Kirkland Lake Gold Miners will take on the No. 7 North Bay Trappers. The No. 4 ranked Abitibi Eskimos going up against the No. 5 Elliot Lake Bobcats.