TORONTO – For a second straight game the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League fell just short as they rallied late only to fall in a shootout once again, dropping a 4-3 decision Saturday to Team Ontario Junior Hockey League Oates in the Central Canada Cup Challenge at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto.
OJHL Oates jumped out to an early lead going up by two before the midway mark of the opening session.
Adam Brady (Kingston Voyageurs) started the scoring five and a half minutes into the contest as he neatly redirected an Ian Edmondson (St. Michael’s Buzzers) slap pass from the left point.
Moments later the OJHL side extended their lead as Thomas Beretta (St. Michael’s Buzzers) took a feed in front from behind the net and one-timed a high shot past NOJHL starter Brian Kment.
The NOJHL got themselves back into the contest in the latter stages of the frame as Khadyn Butterfly (Sudbury Nickel Barons) fired a pass from his left point position to Nicolas Sicoly (Soo Thunderbirds) parked to the side of the net, who had a tap-in to make it 2-1. Ryan Mooney (Sudbury Nickel Barons) also assisted on the play.
With games at the event consisting of two, 20-minute periods, the a solid opportunity to equalize for the NOJHL came seven minutes into the final frame as Brady Clouthier (Abitibi Eskimos) was thwarted by the pad of Alexander Bishop (Hamilton Red Wings) from the slot.
Moments later the OJHL added some insurance capitalizing on a turnover as Thomas Lattavo (Mississauga Chargers) scooped up a loose puck and fed Ryan Garvey (Oakville Blades) who lifted his shot from in close over Kment.
Drawing back to within one with 7:43 remaining Anthony Miller (Soo Thunderbirds) finished off a two-on-one cross-ice pass from Dylan Callaghan (Sudbury Nickel Barons).
Continuing to battle the NOJHLers pulled even with three minutes to go as Spencer MacLean (Elliot Lake Wildcats) stuffed in a rebound at the top of the crease following a Cody Gratton (Cochrane Crunch) blast from inside the blueline.
In the shootout, Steve Hladin (Georgetown Raiders) showed why he is currently the OJHL’s leading point producer with 45 in just 21 outings as he skated in on his attempt and calmly tucked the puck between Kment’s legs for the initial tally in extra shots.
After Brenden Locke (Abitibi Eskimos) was foiled in his attempt, Brady put the OJHL up by two in the shootout as he found the mark on his opportunity.
Needing to score Gratton ran out of room on his chance as Bishop shut the door and sealed the win for the OJHL.
With the setback the NOJHL falls to 0-0-2 at the Central Canada Cup Challenge, but will return to action later Saturday with the start time being determined once the final standings are determined following round robin play.