Cochrane Crunch sweep Powassan Voodoos to win NOJHL East Division final
POWASSAN - The Cochrane Crunch broke open a close game with a four-goal second-period outburst en route to a 7-4 win over the Voodoos Wednesday night at the Sportsplex.
The victory — by the same score the Crunch opened the series — allowed Cochrane to sweep the best-of-seven NOJHL East Division final 4-0.
The Crunch will now sit back and await the winner of the NOJHL West Division final, in which the Soo Thunderbirds currently lead the Elliot Lake Wildcats 3-1.
“I have been pretty confident since the start of the year that we are in this for the long haul,” said Crunch coach and general manager Ryan Leonard.
“That is what we built our team for, although we have brought some guys in an taken some guys out of the lineup.
“The guys I have brought in I have known because they have either played for me before or in the league before.
“They have really stepped up in the playoffs and they have been a big part of why we are winning a lot of games.
“Guys like Daniel Stagg, Dylan Sakatch, Henry Berger, they have been on fire the whole playoffs. It seems like just about every night one of them is getting a hat-trick and on top of that Dustin Cordeiro has been playing really well and Cody Gratton is playing excellent. He may not be scoring two or three goals every game but he is getting assists every game because he is playing Cordeiro and Josh Racek.
“Everybody is contributing. Everybody on our roster right now (not counting goalies Brett Young and Ben Auger) has scored a goal in the playoffs.”
During Wednesday night’s series-clinching victory, Cordeiro was the big gun — netting the hat-trick.
Sakatch also had a pair of goals, including the game-winner in the one-sided second period.
Stagg and Berger had the other two Crunch markers.
Michael Silveri had a hat-trick for the Voodoos, while Jake Staples had a goal and a pair of assists for the home side.
NOJHL scoring champion and regular-season MVP Steve Harland chipped in with three helpers on the night.
Young turned aside 32 shots to earn the victory for the Crunch, while Colton Point started for the Voodoos and made 14 saves in suffering the loss. Jack Ondrovic came on in relief and stopped 11 of the 13 shots he faced.
The Voodoos were without the services of their starting goalie Matt Young for the final two games of the series in Powassan.
“Colton Point made some big saves in the game yesterday (Wednesday), but we just kept doing what we have been doing all series, shooting the puck and going for rebounds,” Leonard said.
The Crunch were up 6-1 heading into the final period Wednesday and may have taken their foot off the gas a little bit in the final frame.
“In the second intermission, I told the guys we have got to make sure we get through this period with no injuries, no suspensions,” Leonard said.
“So we came out there a little flat because we just wanted to get through the period. They scored three goals but if you watch the three goals they scored, there were really lazy plays on our part, kind of jumping out of the way of hits, but we were in full control.”
Dates for the NOJHL finals between the Crunch and either the Thunderbirds or Wildcats have yet to be announced.
Regardless of which team wins, however, the Crunch will start the series on the road.
To allow his team to get their minds off hockey for a few days, Leonard sent his players home for four-day break over the Easter weekend.
“Tuesday morning we will get back to work and practise Wednesday and Thursday to get ready to hopefully pick up four more wins,” he said.
“It is nice to get a bit of a break because we have some tired guys. We played this series without Dustin Deugau for much of the time, so we have been playing without our No. 5 and No. 3 (Connor Lovie) defencemen. Connor has been out since Game 1 of the playoffs and we have been missing Dustin since Game 1 of this series. He has been dressing, but he has some broken fingers and hasn’t been playing regular shifts.
“Joey Mavrin, Max Glashauser and Brandon Plourde have been playing hard here for the last little while. We have been rotating Alex Daija in and out.
“So it is nice to give those guys a bit of a break because it starts to catch up to them.”
Regardless of which team the Crunch wind up facing in the finals, Leonard is confident his team can win the series and advance to the Dudley Hewitt Cup in Fort Frances.
The Crunch won both games against the Thunderbirds in Sault Ste. Marie this season, 3-2 and 5-2, but dropped both contests at the Tim Horton Event Centre, 4-0 and 5-2.
They had slightly less success against the Wildcats, winning 6-4 and losing 9-1 in Elliot Lake and dropping both games at the Tim Horton Event Centre, 4-3 in overtime and 4-2.
“We match up well against both teams, so now it is up to us to get the job done,” Leonard said.