A Nicholas Toffoli tally in the final minute of regulation lifted the Greater Sudbury Cubs to an eventual 5-3 come from behind victory over the Espanola Paper Kings Friday in Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Divisional semifinal at T.M. Davies arena in Lively March 24.
With the result, Greater Sudbury now leads the best-of-seven series 2-0, heading into Game 3 Sunday night in Espanola at 7 p.m.
It was the visiting Paper Kings who opened the scoring just over five minutes into the match-up when Lucas Signoretti snagged a loose puck off a faceoff and worked it in front to Devin Mauro, who lifted it by Cubs’ netminder Noah Metivier.
Adding another at 14:49, Espanola went up 2-0 after Benjamin Lacroix swiped one off a Greater Sudbury defender and worked it to Atley Gringorten, who quickly snapped it in.
The hosts answered with a man advantage marker a couple of shifts later with Oliver Smith ripping one short side into the top corner from the left of Paper Kings’ goalkeeper Jake Marois.
Staying 2-1 for the visitors into the second period, the guests upped their lead at 12:55 when they kept a clearing attempt in the Cubs’ zone where Signoretti got it behind the net and put a pass in front that was controlled by Mauro and deposited over the glove of Metivier.
Coming right back, the hosts answered on the next shift when Kaden Laverdiere took a play wide, then fed a pass cross-ice that was steered in by Ben Harris to make it a one-goal game once more.
Picking up a power play in the back half of the third, Smith’s third of the series tied it as he once again went top shelf with the wrister from a similar location to his initial marker of the night with five and a half minutes remaining in regulation.
Then with overtime looming, Toffoli found himself free in front and swatted in the game-winner from the slot past a sprawling Marois.
They then capped off the comeback with a long-range empty netter from Pierson Sobush in the final moments to wrap things up.
The next game in the series runs Sunday, March 26 at 7 p.m. at the recreation complex in Espanola.