Espanola knocks off French River

FRENCH RIVER – The Espanola Paper Kings capped off a three-games, in four days road swing by winning each of them, including a 9-3 humbling of the French River Rapids in a one-sided Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League Sunday matinee at Noelville Arena.

Collecting the afternoon’s opening goal, Espanola connected 11:45 into the match-up after forcing a turnover in the French River end, which moments later allowed Kyle den Ouden to fire a shot through a screen that caught the short side corner on Rapids’ netminer Michael O’Sullivan.

Picking up one of the assists on the play was the Paper Kings’ Owen Fergusson, who extended a consecutive game point streak to nine in succession.

Adding another just under five minutes later, Blake Peters-Davey made it 2-0 as he worked his way in from the left wing, then got around a defender and went to the net where he lifted in a backhand for his 13th goal of the season.

Getting themselves on the board early in the second stanza, French River’s Matthew Shulist notched his team-leading 17th tally of the season, at 1:58, as he took a Kai Clayton pass then cut to his right on Espanola’s Jake Marois and tucked the puck into the open corner.

Retaking the lead on a four-on-three, the guests made it 3-1 off a point blast from Sean Short that was stopped, but saw Graydon Guthrie swat in the rebound from in close on O’Sullivan.

Back and forth they went, with the Rapids’ Tyson Carr knocking in a Shulist attempt from the left side at 10:13, only to see the Paper Kings pump in three quick ones, a minute and a half apart, to resume control.

The outburst began with den Ouden blasting one in off a clean Jack Lynes face-off win.

Lynes then stuffed in a reverse wrap-around from behind the net 25 seconds later, to spell the end of O’Sullivan’s day, in favour of back-up Elijah Grant.

However, Espanola greeted him with another by Fergusson, who supplied his 25th overall.

Clicking on a power play, the Rapids pulled back to within three at 18:18 as Matthew Stringer pulled a chance back and snapped it over the pad of Marois.

Helping put the game away in the third, the visitors tacked on three more to finish off the romp.

Cayden Kowal whistled a shot off the crossbar, then in, Spencer Horgan ripped his 19th of the campaign from the slot and Atley Gringorten scored on a breakaway to round out the scoring.

The two clubs now head into their respective holiday breaks with the Paper Kings sporting a 22-13-0-0 overall record while the Rapids will enter the New Year at 8-26-1-0.