GALLERY: Eagles stave off late comeback bid to edge Rapids

PHOTOS: Petrah Joehl – Sudbury Light Event Photography

SUDBURY, Ont. – After skating out to a four-goal lead, the Soo Eagles had to withstand a resilient French River Rapids comeback bid before eventually prevailing 4-3 in Day 2 competition Wednesday at the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Showcase at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.

The Eagles began the day’s scoring in the latter stages of the opening frame, off some sustained pressure, that would see Alex Freund wheel out of the corner and put a play to the target that was stopped by Rapids’ goalkeeper Ethan Carlone, but Lucas Caulfield was right there to fire the rebound into the top right-hand corner.

Moving to the second period, the Eagles went up by two at 3:20 after Carlone made a solid point-blank save on Caulfield, only to see Freund step in and chip it by the sprawled netminder.

Patrick Dolan’s first in the NOJHL extended the Sault Ste. Marie lead at 15:01, as he chased down a loose puck before darting down the right wing and sending a short-side, sizzler into the back of the net.

A couple minutes after that, Gavin Rozema made it 4-0 as he directed in a close-range rebound off a Jack Paweski attempt was initially stopped by the pad of Carlone.

French River did come back to solve Anthony Zolezzi in the Soo net just before the second intermission when Tyler Trealout won a race to the puck that was shoveled ahead by Matthew Shulist and while driving hard to the net made a nifty move to his right and lifted a backhand over the glove of the Eagles’ goalkeeper at 19:23.

The Rapids made a goaltending change entering the third, with Elijah Grant coming in for his side.

Adding another, while on a power play, French River controlled a draw and eventually worked it back to Kai Clayton at the point, then saw him skate into the slot where he ripped his attempt high over the blocker of Zolezzi with just six minutes remaining in regulation.

Not done there, the Rapids kept coming and pulled to within one with 1:23 after Nolan Masson zipped a shot from a sharp angle from the side to narrow the gap with Grant on the bench for an extra attacker.

They pressed once more to try and force overtime, but the Soo held on to secure the triumph.

Collecting player of the game laurels were Jack Ohlund of the Eagles and the Rapids’ Carlone.

After dropping their first two games of the season, the Eagles have gone 6-0-0-1 since to move to 6-2-0-1 overall.

In defeat, the Rapids battled hard to the end, but fell to 1-9-0-0 on the campaign.