Canadians off to NOJHL final after series win over Thunderbirds

CHELMSFORD, Ont. – Evan Krassey scored twice while Jacob Partridge notched an impressive shorthanded goal and dished out two assists to lead the Rayside-Balfour Canadians to a 4-1 decision over the Soo Thunderbirds Monday evening in Game 6 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division Final at Chelmsford Arena.

With the result, the Canadians win the best-of-seven series 4-2 and now move on to meet the Cochrane Crunch in the NOJHL finals.

In Monday’s match-up, an early turnover in their own zone proved costly for the Thunderbirds as it resulted in Krassey opening the scoring for the Canadians 4:10 into the contest.

Going to the power play after that, Sault Ste. Marie would get the equalizer off the stick of Lucas Theriault as he spun in front and fired a quick shot off a Robert Calisti pass from the top of the crease.

However, another giveaway, this time in the neutral zone, sent Rayside-Balfour’s Jacob Partridge down the left side, who in turn fired the puck over to Taylor Woolcott as he snapped a shot from the right side that beat Thunderbirds’ starter Brandon Gordon.

The visitors extended their lead with the lone marker of the middle frame as Partridge struck shorthanded at 12:19 on a nice individual effort as he darted around a Thunderbirds’ defender, then cut across the crease, outwaited Gordon, and slid a backhand into the open side during a five-minute Soo power play.

Krassey collected his second of the night with 10:49 remaining in regulation as he finished off a two-on-one with Patridge to help secure the outcome.

Brayden Lachance made 36 saves to record the win for the Canadians while Gordon faced 37 attempts in the season-ending defeat for the Thunderbirds.

The game schedule for the league championship will be announced by the NOJHL once it is finalized.

The NOJHL champions will advance to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup May 1-5 in Dryden, Ont.

NOJHL Playoffs

Series H
West Division Final
No. 1 Rayside-Balfour Canadians vs. No. 2 Soo Thunderbirds
Rayside-Balfour wins best-of-seven series 4-2
Game 1: Soo 2 Rayside-Balfour 0
Game 2: Rayside-Balfour 3 Soo 2 (OT)
Game 3: Rayside-Balfour 4 Soo 3
Game 4: Soo 8 Rayside-Balfour 2
Game 5: Rayside-Balfour 4 Soo 1
Game 6: Rayside-Balfour 4 Soo 1

Photos courtesy of  James Egan’s Sports Photography