Nickel Barons notch key win over Bobcats

By: Randy Pascal – Playback

 | Feb 28, 2014 - 2:20 PM |
Looking to avoid a first-round playoff series with the runaway leaders of the NOJHL, the Sudbury Nickel Barons picked up a key 4-3 win Wednesday night at home over the Elliot Lake Bobcats, scoring four times in the third period for the victory.

The visitors took leads of 1-0 and 2-0 after 20 and 40 minutes of play courtesy of goals from Torrin Grange and Aaron Carmichael, seemingly well in control, with goaltender Alex Bitsakas turning aside every one of the first 22 shots he faced.

A span of just 3:43, however, threw this game into overdrive as Ryan Punkari, Jimmy Roy and Giovanni Foschia found the back of the net for head coach Jason Young and company, giving Sudbury a 3-2 lead midway through the third.

The Bobcats battled back, knotting the contest at 3-3 as defenceman Bryan McFarlane scored with less than four minutes to play. But it took only 15 seconds for smooth-skating Sudbury Wolves' prospect Bradley Bell to restore the advantage for the homeside, drilling his 11th goal of the year for the win.

Sudbury rookie Andrew Lefebvre picked up the win, as well as first-star honours between the pipes, recording a total of 51 saves as the Barons increased their lead in sixth place to six points over the North Bay Trappers.

With both the Soo Thunderbirds (45-5-1-2) and the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (39-6-1-4) more than 20 points clear of the rest of the NOJHL pack, the Barons have good reason for wanting to place no worse than sixth, a position that would currently see the locals facing either the Abitibi Eskimos (28-20-0-4) or the Espanola Rivermen (29-20-0-1) in their quarter-final series.

With a record of 18-29-0-6, the Nickel Barons have but three regular-season games remaining, back at home next Wednesday to face Espanola in the first half of a home-and-home set. The Trappers (15-30-0-6) have two games in hand on Sudbury, with the 2013-2014 campaign winding down on Sunday, March 9.

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