CHELMSFORD, Ont. – Jacob Partridge produced a natural hat trick, which included his second consecutive game-winning goal, as the Rayside-Balfour Canadians defeated the Cochrane Crunch 4-1 Saturday evening in Game 2 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League championship series at Chelmsford Arena.
With the result, the Canadians now lead the best-of-seven match-up 2-0 heading into Game 3 Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane.
After a scoreless first frame, where both sides traded quality chances, it was Rayside-Balfour who opened the scoring seven and a half minutes into the second stanza, during a man advantage as Friday’s Game 1 OT hero, Partridge, took a pass near his own blueline, darted down the right wing, cut in through a pair of Crunch defenders and snapped a shot over the glove of Cochrane starter Shayne Battler.
Moving on to the third, the Canadians, after handling a Crunch power play and forcing a turnover in the visitors zone got the puck to the Partridge who wheeled to the front of the net and whipped a chance into the far corner to make it 2-0 with 15:12 to go.
He then finished off his three-goal night a couple minutes later after breaking in on a two-on-one with Taylor Woolcott, whose crisp pass left Partridge with a tap-in at 7:50.
Some undisciplined play allowed Cochrane to get back in it midway through the frame as Kyle Herbster blasted a one-timer off a Connor Lovie feed to make it 3-1 during a two-man advantage.
Further penalty troubles for both clubs slowed down the pace in the final half of the session that finished with Gabriel Rheault picking up an empty netter for Rayside-Balfour as he dove for the puck deep in Crunch territory and got just enough it to see it trickle over the goal line.
Shots on goal on the night favoured Cochrane 47-45 with Brayden Lachance picking up the win while Battler was saddled with the defeat.
The NOJHL champion will advance to represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, May 1-5, in Dryden, Ont.
All NOJHL postseason contests are streamed online live and on demand via HockeyTV.com.
Rayside-Balfour Canadians vs. Cochrane Crunch
Rayside-Balfour leads best-of-seven series 2-0
Game 1: Rayside-Balfour 2 Cochrane 1 (OT)
Game 2: Rayside-Balfour 4 Cochrane 1
Game 3: Thursday, April 19 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 4: Friday, April 20 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 5*: Sunday, April 22 @ Rayside-Balfour 4 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
Game 6*: Tuesday, April 24 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game7*: Thursday, April 26 @ Rayside-Balfour 7 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
*- if necessary
Top photo by Ben Leeson, Sudbury Star
Bottom Photo courtesy of Rob and Caleigh Fera: www.sudburylight.ca