SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Rayside-Balfour Canadians built up a four-goal lead then withstood a third period comeback bid by the Soo Eagles before eventually prevailing 5-2 Friday night in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play at Pullar Stadium.
The visiting Canadians got the early jump on the Eagles by opening the night’s scoring 3:49 into the contest on Baldino Aiello’s eighth of the season.
Picking up an assist on the play was Rayside-Balfour affiliate player Davis Edmunds who collected his first NOJHL point in his league debut.
They then added another at 16:45 to go up by two thanks to Taylor Woolcott, who notched his ninth of the campaign.
Sault Ste. Marie opted to replace starting netminder Shane Brancato in favour of Carter McPhail after that marker, who would go the rest of the way for the Eagles.
It was more Canadians in the middle stanza however as Gabriel Rheault clicked twice via the man advantage, six minutes apart, including one while his side was up two men, to up their cushion to four after two periods.
The Eagles built some momentum early in the third as Jonathan Lahkani connected on the power play 59 seconds into the frame to put the Soo on the board.
Christian Bardarson and Nick Techel assisted on the goal with the latter raising his league-leading point total to 53 along the way.
Continuing to press, the Eagles added another at 4:14 thanks to a Bobby Price effort.
However Shane Donovan added some insurance, into an empty net, in the late going for Rayside-Balfour to cap off the road victory.
Ryan O’Bonsawin dished out two assists to aid the victors cause.
Brayden Lachance was called upon to make 38 saves in earning the win for the Canadians.
McPhail suffered the loss in relief for the Eagles handling 20 of 22 while Brancato stopped seven of nine in his limited stint.
With the result Rayside-Balfour improves to 20-10-2-1 while the Eagles fell to 20-12 overall.
The NOJHL now heads into its holiday break with game action set to resume in early January.