COCHRANE, Ont. – Hearst Lumberjacks (NOJHL) goaltender Nicholas Tallarico handled all 28 shots he faced to post a historic shutout for the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League as they blanked the Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL) 3-0 Wednesday afternoon in Day 2 action at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup Central Canadian Junior A Championship at Tim Horton Events Centre.
According to files from NOJHL Statistican/Historian David Harrison, the shutout was the first of any kind by a NOJHL side in Dudley-Hewitt Cup participation over the years, dating all the way back to the 1978-79 campaign.
Wednesday’s contest saw Hearst use their first power play of the day to commence the scoring, just past the 12-minute mark of the opening frame.
Working the puck around nicely on the man advantage, Jake Desando took a pass and moved into the top of the right faceoff circle and snapped a shot past Thunder Bay starter Dougie Newhouse, who got the nod in favour of 2018-19 SIJHL Top Goaltender Award recipient Brock Aiken, who was injured in Tuesday’s opening contest and is out indefinitely with an upper body injury.
The NOJHL champion Lumberjacks added to their lead late in the frame when J.J. Berdal chipped one up to Dawson Waddell who put one short side on Newhouse to make it 2-0 after 20 minutes.
Hearst kept it going in the second stanza as they broke out on a mini two-on-one and extended their cushion when Waddell fed a feed in front to Daniel Fisher who batted one in out of mid-air and in to make it 3-0 at 6:06.
Thunder Bay had a trio of power play chances in the period, including a brief five-on-three, but could not take advantage as they were stymied by NOJHL regular season and playoff MVP Tallarico and the Lumberjacks defensive corps.
Moving on to the finale frame, the North Stars pulled Newhouse in the remaining few minutes for an extra attacker, in an effort to get on the board, but they could not solve the Hearst stopper before time expired.
Newhouse made 23 saves in defeat for Thunder Bay as they fell to 0-2 while Hearst improved to 1-1 in the four-team event.
Player of the Game honours went to Tallarico and the North Stars’ Josh Bryant.
Game 2 Wednesday sees a pair of 1-0 clubs meeting as the host Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL) take on the Oakville Blades (OJHL) at 7:30 p.m.
All Dudley-Hewitt Cup games will be streamed live and on demand via HockeyTV.com.
Photo credit: Tim Bates, DHC Images