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Special teams pivotal as Cochrane triumphs over Hearst

COCHRANE, Ont. – The Cochrane Crunch and Hearst Lumberjacks combined for seven special teams tallies Friday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up won 6-4 by the home side at Tim Horton Event Centre.

Returning for their first contest at home since Sept. 28 after from a six-game road swing that included two tilts at the NOJHL Showcase in Sudbury, the Crunch enjoyed the benefits of being back in Cochrane by grabbing a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.

Austin Caza’s initial league marker opened the scoring three minutes in before teammate Nicolas Flanders connected at 9:25.

An early power play to begin the middle stanza helped Hearst cut into the deficit just 15 seconds into the frame thanks to Connor Green.

However the Crunch got that back when Flanders fed Austin Stauffer for his 10th of the campaign.

Cochrane continued to churn offensively as Stauffer tacked on one more at 8:04, while his club was shorthanded, to move into a tie for top spot in the NOJHL in goals scored with 11 with Powassan’s Dayton Murray.

Another Lumberjacks man advantage helped them add another tally when Max Johnson beat Crunch starter Taylor Unruh at the 11-minute mark of the frame.

Following Marcus Blackned connecting on the power play for the Crunch, special teams continued to produce success for the visitors as Alec Johnson notched his club’s third power play goal in the period to pull them within one heading into the third.

Third period action saw Cochrane supply an extra man effort of their own seven and a half minutes in with Flanders picking up his second goal and third point of the evening.

Hearst managed to get one more while up a skater as Alec Johnson notched the final offensive effort of the night with 4:10 remaining to wrap things up.

Kyle Herbster and Connor Lovie dished out two assists apiece for Cochrane.

Unruh made 29 saves to post the win for the Crunch.

Artem Bortovskiy started for the Lumberjacks and played the first period stopping 11 of 13 while Nicholas Dube suffered the loss in relief in handling 17 of 21 fired his way.