SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – A solid 35-save effort from Espanola Express goaltender Joel Rainville earned him first star honours as his performance backstopped his side to a 3-1 road triumph over the Soo Thunderbirds in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League encounter Wednesday evening at John Rhodes Community Centre.
The visiting Express were quick to strike as Diego Pasula opened the scoring 82 seconds into the contest as he picked up his fifth marker of the campaign.
Sault Ste. Marie countered though with the equalizer before the first frame was complete thanks to Cooper Smyl at 12:29 as he notched his ninth of the year.
Moving to the middle stanza, Espanola went back on top just past the six-minute mark when Zachary Matyasik collected a personal season-high 11th to make it 2-1.
It was more from the Express 10 minutes later when Zach Trempner scored for a 12th time in 2019-20 as they carried a two-tally cushion into the third period.
Rainville and his did teammates held firm in a scoreless final frame as the guests skated away with the victory.
The win was the 11th of the season for Espanola, which is the most for the club since 2015-16 when they finished with 12 decisions to their credit.
Dakota Meyer started for the Soo and suffered the loss, allowing three against on 21 attempts before giving way to Sam Evola, who handled all 10 shots he faced in nearly 24 minutes of relief.
Game Photos: Bob Davies