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Perala pots OT winner as Crunch rally past Lumberjacks

HEARST, Ont. – An Owen Perala marker 13 seconds into overtime was the difference as the Cochrane Crunch rallied for a 3-2 come from behind victory over the Hearst Lumberjacks in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Family Day matinee at Claude Larose Arena in front of over 700 fans.

Hearst came out hard in the opening 20 minutes, firing a 21-shot barrage on Cochrane netminder Tomi Gagnon and were rewarded with a pair of Trystan Mughal markers before the contest was six minutes old.

He notched his first of the afternoon at 2:04 then came right back with another and eighth overall a couple of shifts later.

The Crunch did cut into the deficit late into the first period with Kobe Barrette collecting his seventh of the campaign with help from J.P. Moreira and Ryan Hunter at 17:16.

Action in the middle stanza saw Cochrane hold a 14-7 edge in terms of shots on goal, but neither side was able to convert offensively as the Lumberjacks carried their 2-1 cushion into the third period.

There the guests got the equalizer with 8:07 remaining in regulation after Nicholas Grandy out raced a Hearst defender to the net and went top shelf on a breakaway.

The Lumberjacks came close to retaking the lead after that, but were stymied twice by Gagnon who made a couple of point blank stops on Hearst shooters.

Despite the game being tied, Cochrane opted to pull Gagnon for an extra attacker late to try and win in regulation and close the gap in the standings, however Hearst just missed an empty netter in the final moments to send it to OT.

In the extra session, the Crunch made quick work of it to end it early as Billy Paschen found Perarla alone in the slot who promptly wired the game-winner over the outstretched glove of Hearst netminder Liam Oxner to give the visitors the additional point in the match-up.

Shots on goal finished up 37-36 in favour of Cochrane with Gagnon getting the win while Oxner suffered the setback.