TIMMINS – Ryan Attwood scored the game-winner with six seconds remaining in the first overtime as the Abitibi Eskimos battled back from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Sudbury Nickel Barons 5-4 Friday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest held at the Archie Dillon Sportsplex in Timmins.
A wild opening period saw each side tally twice while both starting goaltenders were among four players ejected as part of a penalty-filled stanza.
Abitibi grabbed an early 2-0 lead on a pair of markers from Brady Clouthier, who reached the 90-point plateau on the season with a later assist. He also has points in each of the past half dozen games he has played in.
The Nickel Barons’ Christopher Rossi then matched Clouthier with two tallies of his own to knot the affair at 2-2.
With 3:36 to go in the first Sudbury netminder Kevin Labelle and the Eskimos’ Logan Ferrington were given an an early exit as were the Nickel Barons’ Sheehan Kirkwood and Abitibi’s Brennan Roy, who were all tossed for their roles in an altercation.
The two teams settled down from there and Sudbury got a pair of goals in the latter stages of the second to go up 4-2 after 40 minutes on efforts by captain Jacob Bonin and Brett Whitehead.
Joe Olson brought the Eskimos closer early in the third before Brenden Locke forced extra time by notching the equalizer with 10:57 to go in regulation.
In OT, with the clubs playing four skaters aside, Abitibi won it on Attwood’s unassisted effort in the late going to complete the comeback and earn the second point on the night.
Olson and Jake Holland both had two assists each for the Eskimos.
Chet Tooker made 46 saves in a lengthy relief stint to earn the win for Abitibi while Jessie Morin had 36 stops for the Nickel Barons.
The victory was important for the Eskimos who remain tied with Cochrane for second place in the NOJHL East Division with home ice still up for grabs as both teams wrap-up regular season play Saturday.
Abitibi hosts Mattawa while the Crunch visit Powassan in a pair of 7:30 p.m. starts.
Two other match-ups go Saturday at 7:30 p.m. as well with Sudbury heading to Kirkland Lake and Sault Ste. Marie visiting Blind River.