NORTH BAY – Sports – Shane Conacher had a goal and two assists to help propel the St. Michael’s Buzzers (OJHL) to a 4-2 victory over the Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) in opening game action at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Junior championship being staged at North Bay’s Memorial Gardens.
Thunderbirds fall behind at Dudley Hewitt
It was the Ontario Junior Hockey League champion Buzzers who carried the play for large stints of the first period, but could not solve Thunderbirds netminder Joel Horodziejczyk who calmly turned aside all 23 shots he faced.
Adrian Ignagni was not tested until the latter stages of the stages as he finished the opening 20 minutes with seven saves.
It was much of the same in the middle frame with St. Michael’s holding a large edge in the shots on goal department totaling 48 to just 13 for the T-Birds after 40 minutes.
The Buzzers were finally rewarded for their constant pressure as Jordan Merante wristed a shot from the slot that Horordziejczyk managed to get a piece of, but not quite enough, as the puck squirted through between his blocker and body and just slid across the goal line for the initial tally of the contest.
OJHL playoff most valuable player Conacher extended the Buzzers lead early in the third as he one-timed a crisp pass from Merante going low blocker side on Horodziejczyk at 2:33.
Showing why he was listed in the latest National Central Scouting draft rankings, Troy Josephs added to the lead four minutes later as he wired one from the left face-off circle high into the top right hand corner making it 3-0.
Sault Ste. Marie’s Brandon Warmington dashed Ignagni’s shutout bid 17 seconds after Joseph’s marker as he found jammed in a rebound following a goal mouth scramble at 7:16.
Michael Neville added some insurance for the Buzzers as he darted around a Thunderbirds’ defender and neatly tucked a shot under the cross bar with six and half to go.
The game’s final minute saw the Sault inch closer as Adam Ritchie snapped in a quick shot from in close to round out the scoring.
Player of the game laurels, as chosen by the tournament committee, went to Merante of the Buzzers and Horodziejczyk of the Thunderbirds.
Final shots on goal in the contest favoured St. Michael’s 69-26.
Game 2 of the day goes at 7 p.m. as the host North Bay Trappers take on the Minnesota Wilderness, champions of the Superior International Junior Hockey League.
Round robin play continues Wednesday as Sault Ste. Maries takes on the Wilderness at 2:30 p.m. followed by St. Michael’s and North Bay at 7 p.m. back at Memorial Gardens.
April 30-May 4 @ North Bay
North Bay Trappers (Host-NOJHL)
Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL)
Minnesota Wilderness (SIJHL)
St. Michael’s Buzzers (OJHL)
St. Michael’s 4 Soo 2
Minnesota vs. North Bay 7 p.m.
Soo vs. Minnesota 2:30 p.m.
St. Michael’s vs. North Bay 7 p.m.
Minnesota vs. St. Michael’s 2:30 p.m.
North Bay vs. Soo 7 p.m.
Semifinal: 2nd round robin vs. 3rd round robin 7 p.m.
Final: 1st round robin vs. Semifinal winner 7 p.m.
After game 1
TEAM League GP W L PTS GF GA
St. Michael’s OJHL 1 1 0 2 4 2
North Bay Host-NOJHL 0 0 0 0 0 0
Minnesota SIJHL 0 0 0 0 0 0
Soo NOJHL 1 0 1 0 2 4
Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner advances to the Royal Bank Cup May 11-19 in Summerside, P.E.I.