COCHRANE, Ont. – A Tristan Taillefer tally with 18 seconds remaining in overtime lifted the Cochrane Crunch to a dramatic 7-6 victory over the French River Rapids Sunday afternoon in semifinal action in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Polar Bear Classic, hosted by the Crunch, at Tim Horton Events Centre.
A tightly-contested first period saw each side score once with Alex Paul putting the Rapids on the board at 14:41 only to see Alex Morawski knot the affair for the Crunch just 55 seconds later.
The clubs then connected for a combined five markers in the second stanza, which all came in rapid succession.
Will Frustaglio and Levi Siau started the offensive outburst by connecting for French River before Ryan Mooney, shorthanded, and Zach Hayes at even strength countered for Cochrane in just four minutes of play.
A Rapids’ power play effort moments later gave the visitors a 4-3 lead after two.
The goals kept coming in the third as Matt McDermitt tied it for the Crunch at 6:04.
Action in the back and forth affair continued with Philippe Daoust striking shorthanded a minute and a half later to put French River back on top.
After Ryan Smith put the Rapids up by a pair with 7:45 to go, undaunted, Cochrane battled back once more on tallies from Jacob Stos and Taillefer to force extra time.
In the OT, it was Taillefer who was the hero as he capped off the Crunch comeback and end this exciting contest.
Stos and Justin Bofshever chipped in with two assists apiece for Cochrane while Siau doled out three helpers for French River.