SUDBURY, Ont. – The Soo Eagles built up a three-goal lead then withstood a valiant third period comeback bid by the Greater Sudbury Cubs as they prevailed with a 3-2 triumph Friday in Game 6 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff series at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.
With the result, the Eagles win the best-of-seven affair 4-2 and now advance to meet the top-ranked Soo Thunderbirds in the West Division Final.
Collecting the evening’s initial tally, with just over three minutes remaining in the first period, the Eagles’ Marc LaFrance chipped one past Cubs’ goaltender Joel Rainville off a strong move to the net by teammate Jack Mortson.
Carrying their one-goal cushion into the second period, Sault Ste. Marie’s special teams struck twice late in the session as a pair of extra-man markers put them up 3-0 after 40 minutes.
Zachary Briskey got the first via the power play as he knocked down a shot from the point then proceeded to bat it in while parked at the top of the crease.
Still up a skater, Mortson scored 31 seconds later as he slammed one into the open side while stationed to the left of net.
In the final frame, Greater Sudbury got one back on the opening shift as Soo goaltender Ryan Gilmore misplayed the puck behind the net, which allowed Cameron Shanks to put it front where a waiting Billy Biedermann was there to back hand it in, at the 24-second mark.
Getting another with 6:23 left in regulation, the Cubs’ Kyler Campbell was there to stuff one in off a rebound from a Christopher Innes wrister from the left point.
Pressing hard for the equalizer to try and force overtime, Greater Sudbury could not solve Gilmore and the Eagles’ defenders before time expired as the Soo held on to take the hard-fought series.
The schedule for the Thunderbirds – Eagles West Division Final will be announced by the NOJHL once it is finalized.
NOJHL West Division semifinal
Soo Eagles vs. Greater Sudbury Cubs
Soo wins best-of-seven series 4-2
Game 1: Eagles 5 Cubs 4 (OT)
Game 2: Eagles 4 Cubs 3
Game 3: Cubs 4 Eagles 2
Game 4: Eagles 5 Cubs 0
Game 5: Cubs 5 Eagles 2
Game 6: Eagles 3 Cubs 2