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Wildcats edge Gold Miners to set NOJHL record for wins by a first-year team

KIRKLAND LAKE – Cole Hepler scored the game’s lone goal and A.J. Smith stopped all 22 shots he faced as the Elliot Lake Wildcats edged the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners 1-0 Friday evening in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest staged at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.

The victory by Elliot Lake was there 34th of the season, which set a new NOJHL record for wins by an expansion club, surpassing the 33 registered by the Timmins Golden Bears during the 1991-92 campaign.

Helper notched the lone tally of the night midway through the first period with assists going to Adam Baxter and Spencer MacLean.

Smith in the Wildcats net along with Kirkland Lake goaltender Josh Erickson stymied opposing shooters the rest of the way to cap off the low-scoring affair.

Erickson finished up making 20 saves in defeat for the Gold Miners.

With the win, Elliot Lake also moved to within one point of a share for top spot in the overall league standings.

The Wildcats now have 71 points in their first year in the NOJHL, which is just one fewer than Kirkland Lake and the Soo Thunderbirds.

Sault Ste. Marie does however hold three games in hand on the Gold Miners and two on Elliot Lake.

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