A trio of newcomers and a saving relief effort have managed to help the Espanola Express to get back on the right track in the West Division of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Alexander Christopoulos scored twice and fellow forwards Atley Gringorten and Pineshish Whiteduck tallied once apiece in their Espanola debut as the Express rolled to a clutch 7-4 road decision over the Elliot Lake Red Wings. All three skaters were acquired by Espanola in recent trades with Christopoulos joining the Express from the Hearst Lumberjacks and Gringorten and Whiteduck part of a four player swap with the Sudbury Cubs.
Meanwhile, Express rookie goalie Patrick Boivin stole the show by stopping all 35 shots he faced in 39 minutes of sparkling relief of starter Colby Ramsdale.
The win for Espanola not only ended an eight-game (0-7-1) winless streak but kept the Express in fifth place ahead of Elliot Lake in the race for the last playoff spot in the West Division. Espanola is three points up on Elliot Lake with six games in hand.
Express general manager and coach Jason Rapcewicz liked the way his newly-aligned team came together following the series of trades — and long term injuries to five key players.
“First off, it was nice to not sabotage ourselves with undisciplined penalties and give us a chance to win what was a big game against Elliot Lake,” Rapcewicz told Hockey News North. “I feel like we are in a good place … we will make it through and muck and grind every night.”
Goalie Patrick Boivin, making one of 35 saves in Espanola’s recent win over Elliot Lake. (photo by Northern Exposures)