A nice deflection goal by Powassan Voodoos captain Cameron Lemcke 8:24 into the third period was the game-winner in a 4-3 decision over the Hearst Lumberjacks Saturday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League encounter at the Claude Larose Recreation Centre.
The game also marked the return to the arena for Marc Lafleur, new Voodoos head coach, to his hometown of Hearst. Lafleur guided the Lumberjacks to a Copeland Cup title in 2019; the last season the championship was handed out due to COVID-19.
Staying hot to start the season, Powassan got on the board at 11:08 of the first period when Battalion prospect Chase MacQueen-Spence stuffed one under the crossbar, off a goal-mouth scramble.
Going to the power play right after that though, Hearst promptly provided the equalizer on a Raphael Lajeunesse effort as he snagged a loose puck at the top of the crease and lifted a backhand over Voodoos’ netminder Alex Bugeja.
Undeterred, the visitors answered that less than a minute later when Ryan O’Dell’s long feed sent Battalion prospect Rodion Tatarenko in alone on a breakaway where he snapped one upstairs on Hearst starter Liam Oxner for his initial league tally on a night where he was making his NOJHL debut.
The Voodoos then went up 3-1 midway through the match-up as Caleb van de Ven scooped up a turnover just inside the Lumberjacks zone and ripped a wrister past Oxner.
Battling back, Hearst’s Robbie Rutledge finished off an odd-man rush from close range moments later to pick up his initial NOJHL marker.
Rutledge then tied it in the final minute of the second as he scooped up the puck from behind the net and wheeled in front where he stuffed in his second of the period on the Powassan goaltender.
The back and forth affair saw the visitors get the decider in the third as the Powassan power play resulted in Lemcke nicely redirecting a rising Tatarenko wrist shot while parked in front of Hearst net.
Tatarenko finished the night with a goal and two assists for a three-point performance.
Bugeja was busy, making 39 saves to collect the victory while Oxner faced 31 attempts fired his way in defeat.
The Voodoos, who moved to 4-0, travel to Timmins to finish off a northern road swing to clash with the Rock. Puck drop is set for 3 p.m.
Games summaries, statistics and standings can be found online at NOJHL.com.