ELLIOT LAKE – A Landon Hiebert goal 12 and half minutes into overtime lifted the Abitibi Eskimos to a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Elliot Lake Bobcats Monday evening in game 6 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League quarter-final at Centennial Arena.
The win by the Eskimos levels the best-of-seven series at 3-3 and forces a seventh and deciding game Wednesday night at Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls at 7:30 p.m. with the victor earning a semifinal berth against the Soo Thunderbirds.
Elliot Lake grabbed the lead seven minutes into the contest with Aviv Milner connecting to put the Bobcats out in front.
Abitibi tied things up with at 14:58 of the opening frame as Kevin Walker buried a feed from Erik Robichaud.
The tight-checking contest continued into the middle session, which went scoreless, as both the Bobcats’ Alex Bitsakis and the Eskimos’ Brody Wagner kept opposing shooters at bay keeping the score 1-1 into the third.
It stayed that way until the late going of the third period and with overtime looming Robichaud made a crisp cross-ice pass on the tape to Brenden Locke who wired one past Bitsakis with 1:42 remaining to give Abitibi their first lead of the night.
Undaunted, the Bobcats answered back with 49 seconds remaining in regulation as Dustin Cordeiro redirected in a Dylan Sakatch wrister from in front to supply the equalizer and force OT.
Both sides traded multiple quality chances in the extra session with Abitibi eventually prevailing by finishing off a two-on-one with Hiebert receiving a pass then cutting in slightly to the middle of the ice before whipping home the winner from the high slot to send the series to the distance.
Robichaud had a big night for the Eskimos earning assists on all three of his club’s tallies.
Shots on goal on the night favoured the Bobcats 55-53 with Wagner picking up the win and Bitsakis suffering the OT setback.
QUARTER-FINAL SERIES D
No. 4 Abitibi Eskimos vs. No. 5 Elliot Lake Bobcats
Best-of-seven series tied 3-3
Game 1: Abitibi 2 Elliot Lake 1
Game 2: Elliot Lake 5 Abitibi 4 (OT)
Game 3: Elliot Lake 7 Abitibi 1
Game 4: Abitibi 6 Elliot Lake 2
Game 5: Elliot Lake 5 Abitibi 4
Game 6: Abitibi 3 Elliot Lake 2 (OT)
Game 7: Wednesday, March 26 @ Abitibi 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan Arena)