CHELMSFORD, Ont. – An Oliver Smith shorthanded goal moments into the second period proved to be the game-winner as the Rayside-Balfour Canadians went on to defeat the Soo Thunderbirds 5-2 in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Sunday evening at Chelmsford Arena.
Rayside-Balfour began the night’s proceedings just past the five-minute mark of the first period, via the power play, as first-year forward Matthew Belanger beat Sault Ste. Marie starter Dakota Meyer for his 14th goal of the season, which is second among rookies in league play, trailing only the Thunderbirds’ Jacob Kovacs’ 16 tallies.
The Canadians then added to their cushion late in the opening period with another man advantage effort put in by Zacharie Giroux at 18:20.
Down a man entering the middle stanza, Smith struck 13 seconds in to put the home side up by three.
Sault Ste. Marie did get on the board at 1:45 on an Avery Rebek effort, only to see RBC’s Nicolas DeGrazia answer that on the next shift to make it 4-1.
Cooper Smyl’s sixth brought the Soo closer before the frame was complete as the visitors moved to within two entering the third.
The final period though saw Rayside-Balfour secure the decision with their third power play effort of the night off the stick of Samuel Vachon with 6:39 to go to round out the night’s scoring.
Cameron Lamour in the Canadians net finished with 42 saves in earning the triumph while Meyer saw 39 shots against in the setback.
With the victory, the Canadians improve to 17-7-2-0 on the year while the Thunderbirds saw a six-game winning streak come to an end as they fell to 14-10-1-2 overall in defeat.