It was a frantic finish to a back and back forth contest.
With the game tied 3-3 and time ticking away, forward Cameron Walker scored his second goal of the third period — and third of the day — with 35 seconds left on the clock to lift the Espanola Express to a 4-3 win over the visiting Soo Thunderbirds in Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League action from this afternoon.
Rookie forward Colton Wiacek netted his first goal in an Espanola jersey and goalie Luke Beally, making his first NOJHL start, made 42 saves as the Express overcame a 3-2 third period deficit for the come-from-behind triumph over the Thunderbirds.
Espanola had started the week with a pair of road setbacks at the Soo, losing by 8-1 and 5-2 margins.
But the Express showed a bounce back resolve today in eking out the home ice, matinee win to halt the two-game losing streak and improve its record to 4-3-2 through nine games.
Espanola coach Brent Hughes credited his team’s win to “staying patient … and staying the course.
“We allowed the game to come to us and didn’t get in to chasing the play,” Hughes told Hockey News North. “We are a young team and the Soo is an experienced team and we have to be aware of that and respect it.”
When asked about the play of his rookie goalie, Hughes complimented the performance of the aforementioned Luke Beally.
“He stepped up for us and made some really big saves,” Hughes said of Beally. “Luke played very well for us and I thought the Soo goalie (Scott Young) did as well.”
Scoring wise, rookie Tyson Doucette, Parker Morgan and defenseman Cameron Dutkiewicz potted goals for the Soo, which now has a record of 3-3-1 through seven games on the season.
The two teams will meet again on Sunday afternoon in a 2:00 start time at the Espanola Regional Recreation Complex.