NORTH BAY – Dudley Hewitt Cup action continues. Last night, former Thunder Bay North Stars forward Brandon Warmington’s goal 9:11 into the overtime lifted the Soo Thunderbirds to a dramatic 4-3 victory over the host North Bay Trappers Thursday evening in the final round robin game at the 2013 Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canada Junior A championship at Memorial Gardens.
With the win the Thunderbirds (1-2) now advance to Friday’s semifinal at 7 p.m. against the second place St. Michael’s Buzzers (2-1) while the setback thus ends the Trappers season, despite a furious third period comeback that saw them rally from three goals down to force OT.
The Minnesota Wilderness (2-1) (SIJHL) earned a spot directly to Saturday’s title game after earning the first place tiebreaker over St. Michael’s by winning the head-to-head match-up against the two sides, earlier in a day, by a 3-0 score.
Sault Ste. Marie notched the only goal of the opening period as affiliate Ryan Vendramin quickly buried a cross-crease pass by Anthony Miller beating North Bay netminder Greg Dodds from in close midway through the session.
He was at it again 10:01 into the middle frame as moments after a chance for the Trappers’ Duane Wainman, the Sault countered with Miller once again feeding the puck in front to a wide-open Vendramin who slipped in the puck into the open side past a sprawled Dodds.
David Radke added to the Thunderbirds lead early in the final stanza putting them up three, but North Bay replied by finally solving Stephen Dombrosky in the Sault Ste. Marie net as Brennen Dubchak connected at 5:30 to give the Trappers some life.
Building on that momentum the Trappers trimmed the deficit, on the power play, as defenceman Beau Orser skated in along the right side and made a crisp pass over to NOJHL playoff MVP Trevor Hunt, who wired one into the top shelf from the left face-off circle with 11:07 to go.
Wainman came close to tying it with just over three minutes to go as his hard shot rang off the crossbar and out of play.
Then with 2:10 remaining in regulation Dubchak knotted the score as he went high on Dombrosky finishing off the work of Hunt to send the contest to extra time.
After a number of chances on both ends in OT, Warmington corralled a neutral zone turnover and drifted in alone, giving a couple of head fakes before depositing the game-winner into the top right hand corner to end it.
Final shots on goal favoured the T-Birds by a 51-39 margin.
Earning player of the game laurels were Warmington for the Sault and Dubchak for North Bay.
April 30-May 4 @ North Bay
St. Michael’s 4 Soo 2
North Bay 4 Minnesota 1
Minnesota 7 Soo 0
St. Michael’s 5 North Bay 2
Minnesota 3 St. Michael’s 0
Soo 4 North Bay 3 (OT)
Semifinal: St. Michael’s (2nd round robin) vs. Soo (3rd round robin) 7 p.m.
Final: Minnesota (1st round robin) vs. Semifinal winner 7 p.m.
FINAL ROUND ROBIN STANDINGS
TEAM GP W L PTS GF GA
Minnesota* 3 2 1 4 11 4
St. Michael’s 3 2 1 4 9 7
Soo# 3 1 2 2 6 14
North Bay 3 1 2 2 9 10
* – Minnesota finishes first by virtue of head-to-head win over St. Michael’s
# – Soo finishes third by virtue of head-to-head win over North Bay
The Dudley-Hewitt Cup winner advances to the Royal Bank Cup May 11-19 in Summerside, P.E.I.