CHELMSFORD, Ont. – The rolling Rayside-Balfour Canadians saw Nicholas DeGrazia tally twice on the power play in regulation then notch the decider in the shootout to lead his team to a narrow 3-2 triumph over the Hearst Lumberjacks Thursday evening in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action at Chelmsford Arena.
The victory capped off a perfect month for Rayside-Balfour who won all eight games they played in January while also improving to 10-0-0-1 in their past 11.
Down two-men and with a faceoff deep in their own zone, it was Hearst that struck shorthanded to open the scoring as Trystan Mughal pushed the draw forward then chipped the puck out where he won a race to the net and chipped it over Canadians netminder David Bowen to give the guests the lead at 13:23.
Still up a pair of skaters though, the home side came right back to knot the affair when Benjamin Hatanaka put a cross-ice pass right to a waiting DeGrazia, who snapped the equalizer past Lumberjacks starter Liam Oxner.
The assist for Hatanaka saw him extend an impressive consecutive game point streak to 15 in succession.
Late in the second stanza, Rayside-Balfour went in front during another power play chance that saw DeGrazia backhand in 24th tally of the campaign to make it 2-1 after two.
Hearst came back in the third to force overtime, when Dominic Dumas parked to the side of the net made a fake pass attempt then took a step in and fired the tying tally under Bowen to knot the affair at 2-2 seven and a half minutes into the session.
It would go scoreless the rest of regulation and the five-minute OT to send it to extra shots to determine a winner.
There Mitchell Martin buried a shot on RBC’s initial chance while Bowen made two straight stops on Lumberjacks shooters.
With a chance to end it, DeGrazia skated in, made a deke left and slid in the decider past the outstretched pad of Oxner to keep the Canadians on their torrid pace.
Shots on goal finished 38-28 in favour of Hearst with Bowen winning for a seventh time in as many NOJHL appearances while Oxner’s efforts helped his side earn a point in defeat.