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Eagles earn shootout decision over Crunch

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Caleb Wood collected the only goal in the shootout as the Soo Eagles skated to a narrow 4-3 decision over the visiting Cochrane Crunch in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League encounter Saturday night at Pullar Stadium with 817 fans on hand.

An evenly played opening frame saw the shots end up at nine apiece, but stayed scoreless thanks to the efforts of Eagles goalkeeper Shane Brancato and Zach Wickson of the Crunch.

Cochrane did strike early in the second though on Stephen Minichiello’s 10th, only to see Sault Ste. Marie counter moments later on a Jake Lamberty marker as he connected in back-to-back outings.

The goals kept coming from there as the Eagles sandwiched tallies from Tucker Harris and Ryan Dacks around one courtesy of Matthew Minichiello of the Crunch to make 3-2 after two.

Cochrane came back to tie it midway through the third and force extra time on the initial league goal from William Walsh.

After the five-minute overtime failed to produce a result, Wood connected on the first attempt of the shootout as he skated in slowly, moved left and roofed one high on Wickson in what turned out to be the only marker in extra shots.

Brancato finished with 30 stops in 65 minutes of work, along with handling all three chances he faced in the shootout, to record the win.

Wickson faced 35 attempts along the way and handled two of three in penalties to help the Crunch collect one point in the setback.