French River survives Hearst rally with OT victory

HEARST, Ont. – The French River Rapids let a late three-goal lead get away before eventually prevailing in overtime as they pulled out a 6-5 victory over the Hearst Lumberjacks Saturday night in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest at Claude Larose Arena.

Hearst did open the scoring 80 seconds into the match-up on a Matthew MacDougall effort.

French River came back to tie it near the midway mark of first period as Levi Siau’s fourth helped send the two sides to the opening intermission knotted at 1-1.

On the power play early in the second stanza, Cooper Bowman put the Rapids back in front.

The visitors then tallied twice late in the session to go up 4-1 after two, on an extra-man marker from Ty Chambers and an even strength effort off the stick of Kyle Avery.

The home side saw Dominic Dumas bring his team back to within a pair at 6:05 of the third, only to see Bowman bury another a couple of shifts after that to put the guests back up by three.

Mounting their comeback, Hearst converted twice on the power play to pull back to within a goal as Jake Desando and Spencer Silver added to their goal totals.

Then with their netminder out for an extra attacker and with just seconds remaining, David Gobeil charged up the ice out of his own zone, got it up to Max Griffioen who was one of three Lumberjacks skaters left alone in front of French River goalkeeper Sebastian Woods where a short passes let Silver strike for the equalizer just before time expired to send it to OT.

In the extra session though, Bowman powered his way towards the net and shoveled the puck over to a hard-charging Esa Patton, who lifted in the game-winner a minute and a half in.

Woods finished with 39 saves to collect the win for the Rapids.

Noah Zeppa started for Hearst and allowed four against on 11 attempts while Liam Oxner suffered the loss in relief saving four of six.