SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – An Avery Rebek power play goal, from point blank range, 3:35 into overtime was the difference as the Soo Thunderbirds defeated the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 4-3 in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Wednesday at John Rhodes Community Centre.
Rayside-Balfour would open the night’s scoring near the 11-minute mark of the first period when Matthew Belanger bagged his 17th tally of the campaign.
Answering back, Sault Ste. Marie drew level before the frame was complete as Rylan Clemons connected for his initial NOJHL goal to help send the teams to the intermission knotted at 1-1.
Moving on to the middle stanza, the Canadians went back in front at 4:22 on an Oliver Smith effort, only to see the Thunderbirds counter yet again thanks to Clemons’ second of the night.
The Soo then took their first lead of the match-up on a Mackenzie Walkington shorthanded effort at 7:43, which held up throughout the rest of the session.
In third, it was the visitors turn to level the proceedings when Giordano Biondi scored on the power play at 1:08.
Neither side would convert offensively in the remainder of the period to send it to OT with the extra point up for grabs.
On the man advantage there, Clemons pushed the puck up to Rebek in front, who in turn snapped the game-winner past Rayside-Balfour netminder Cameron Lamour to end it.
Thunderbirds starter Ethan Racz made 32 saves to record his first league victory while Lamour stopped 46 on the evening in defeat.
With the result, the Soo improves 16-12-1-3 on the year with the Canadians going to 21-8-3-0, who despite the setback, did move back into top spot in the NOJHL’s West Division, one point clear of the idle Blind River Beavers.
Game Photos courtesy of Bob Davies