There is less room for error.
The home-ice advantage has shifted.
And a best-of-seven series between Soo Thunderbirds and Kirkland Lake Gold Miners for the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League championship is now a best-of-five set.
Having gained a split of Games 1 and 2 in the Soo, Kirkland Lake now takes home-ice advantage for Games 3 and 4 tonight and Friday at Joe Mavrinac Community Complex.
Momentum — at least for now — is on the side of the Gold Miners.
But this is a Soo team that finished first during the regular season and has won in Kirkland Lake before.
On the flip side, this is a Gold Miners team that finished second during the regular season and is on par with the Thunderbirds in every important category.
The Soo could get a boost tonight with the return to the net of first all-star team goalie and league most valuable player Joel Horodziejczyk.
Horodziejczyk missed nine straight playoff games with an injury and only returned to action for the third period of Game 2.
Still, Kirkland Lake can call on Jeremy Pominville for another start between the pipes and the Gold Miners goaltender has been razor sharp throughout the playoffs with an 8-1 record, 1.59 goals-against-average and .940 save percentage.
Home-ice advantage and momentum, to be sure, are both on the side of the Gold Miners.
And the hometown fans of Kirkland Lake figure to be rocking, rolling, hooting and hollering from the time the first puck drops tonight.
Championship-series hockey is back on the Mile of Gold in Kirkland.