FRENCH RIVER – A three-goal third period comeback, including a shorthanded effort by Matthew Minichiello with just over nine minutes to play, helped the Cochrane Crunch rally for an eventual 7-6 decision over the French River Rapids in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up Saturday at Noelville Arena.
A free-wheeling first frame saw the two clubs collect five markers between them, including three by the host Rapids.
After Owen Perala needed just 26 seconds to put Cochrane on the board off the opening faceoff, French River countered by collecting a trio of tallies in a seven and a half minute span to go up 3-1.
Ty Chambers drew the Rapids level at 2:01 while teammates Kyle Avery and Cooper Lobsinger, with his initial NOJHL marker, added later efforts to chase Tomi Gagnon in favour of Zach Wickson, who went the rest of the way for the visitors.
Hunter Buzzi got one back for the Crunch before the session was complete as the home side carried their slim lead into the intermission.
Moving to the second stanza, the goal parade continued with each team tacking on two more each to it make a 5-4 game heading into the third.
Billy Paschen, via the power play, along with another by Buzzi had efforts bookended by French River’s Brendan Guignard opening marker and Will Frustaglio’s 50th of his NOJHL career, that came during a man advantage.
In the final period, the Rapids added to their lead 66 seconds in, when Avery added his second of the evening and seventh of the campaign.
Getting that back, Michael Mizerak answered for the Crunch at 3:40 as his second of the year brought the guests close once more.
Minichiello then converted on a man advantage opportunity at 10:03 to knot the score at 6-6.
Going down a skater moments later, Minichiello tacked on the game-winner as his team-leading 22nd proved to be the evening’s final marker.
Cochrane’s Buzzi also had two assists on the night for a four-point night.
Wickson made 27 saves in relief to get the win while Gagnon stopped six of nine.
Sebastian Woods faced 39 shots in defeat for the Rapids.
Game Photos courtesy of Dal Photography