Eagles extend series with Game 4 victory over Canadians

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Soo Eagles rallied from a two-goal deficit and rode the strength of three third period tallies to pull out an eventual 7-4 victory over the Rayside-Balfour Canadians Friday in Game 4 over their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at Pullar Stadium.

With the win, the Eagles collect their first win of the series and now trail three games to one heading into Game 5 Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at Chelmsford Arena.

Needing to win to keep their season alive, Sault Ste. Marie got off to a positive start as they scored first for the initial time in the series on a Riley Jensen power play marker at 9:47.

Rayside-Balfour came back to tie it with five minutes left in the first on a tail end of a man advantage with Brandon Atkins notching his first of the playoffs.

The Canadians then took the lead before the session was complete as they connected once more, while up a skater, as Carson McMillan finished off the work of Giordano Biondi and Kyle Liinamaa at 18:18.

A fortunate bounce allowed the visitors to go up by a pair 21 seconds into the middle frame when a Jett Leishman pass in front hit the stick of a falling Eagles’ defenceman and was redirected into the open side beating a helpless Shane Brancato in the Soo net who had no chance on the play.

The Eagles got that back though after forcing a turnover deep in the RBC zone that resulted in Nathan Solis being left alone in front and make no mistake putting one upstairs on Bowen at 2:44 to make it 3-2.

They then used another solid forecheck to knot the affair a couple shifts later with Kobe Keller finishing off a quick give-and-go with Dominic Skrelja as he went short side to level the proceedings.

Continue to press the Soo struck again at 9:05 as Jake Lamberty collected his own rebound and stuffed in his first of the playoffs to put the home side into the lead once more.

Back and forth they went with Rayside-Balfour tying it late in the stanza as Evan Krassey struck shorthanded at 19:17 to knot the affair at 4-4.

The Eagles came back and got the eventual game-winner off the stick of Skrelja near the two-minute mark of the third.

They then added some insurance from Alec Schwab at 15:23 before Raf Praysner iced it with an empty netter in the late going to round out the scoring.

Hayden Clark, Charley Hanewall, Caleb Wood and Kyle Quinn each dished out two assists in the triumph of the Soo.

Brancato finished with 27 stops to record the victory for the Eagles while Bowen faced 32 attempts in defeat for the Canadians.

West Division semifinal
No. 2 Rayside-Balfour Canadians vs. No. 3 Soo Eagles
Canadians lead best-of-seven series 3-1
Game 1: Canadians 2 Eagles 1
Game 2: Canadians 1 Eagles 0
Game 3: Canadians 3 Eagles 2 (OT)
Game 4: Eagles 7 Canadians 4
Game 5: Sunday, March 24 @ Rayside-Balfour 6:30 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
Game 6*: Tuesday, March 26 @ Soo Eagles 7 p.m. (Pullar Stadium)
Game 7*: Wednesday, March 27 @ Rayside-Balfour 7:30 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
*-if necessary