KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – The Kirkland Lake Gold Miners got a goal from Dylan Holt in the latter stages of the second period that stood up for the game-winner and a 23-save performance from netminder Joe Marcoullier as they edged the Cochrane Crunch 2-1 Thursday in a low-scoring Game 4 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division final at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
With the result, Kirkland Lake now leads the best-of-seven series 3-1 and will have a chance to close it out Saturday as the action shifts to the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane for Game 5 Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in a match-up the Crunch must win to keep their season alive.
In Thursday’s contest, the opening stanza saw the home side notch the lone tally of the session as Logan Fredericks collected his seventh of the playoffs six and a half minutes in.
Cochrane drew level 7:03 into the second session courtesy of John Stevenson’s fourth of the postseason.
The Gold Miners came back and retook the lead at 16:31 of the frame when Holt fired a shot through a maze and beat Crunch netminder Brett Young.
The visitors just missed an opportunity to tie things up again five minutes into the third as Jon Marzec’s wrister from the left side eluded Marcoullier, but pinged off the cross bar and bounced out of play.
Cochrane continued to press for the equalizer, but could not solve the stingy Gold Miners’ defensive zone play or the solid goaltending of Marcoullier.
The Crunch did pull Young late in favour of an extra attacker in an effort to force overtime, but Kirkland Lake withstood the surge and secured the first home ice victory in the series.
Brayden Stortz and Joel Fortin each assisted on both goals supplied by the hosts on the night.
Young suffered the loss stopping 24 of 26 along the way.
The winner of this series will take on either the Soo Thunderbirds or Elliot Lake Wildcats in the NOJHL’s Copeland Cup – McNamara Trophy league championship series.
Sault Ste. Marie currently leads that best-of-seven set 3-0 heading into Game 4 Friday at Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake.