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French River doubles up Espanola 4-2 in preseason play

NOELVILLE, Ont. – Third period tallies by Austin Hickner and Alex Paul helped the French River Rapids break open a tie game with the Espanola Express as they skated to a 4-2 triumph Tuesday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League preseason match-up at Noelville Arena.

Espanola did get off to a good start in the contest, notching the night’s opening goal seven minutes in on a Jace Pitawanakwat marker.

Jacob Uridil pulled the Rapids level with 7:27 left in the first period only to see Hunter Abotossaway put the visiting Express back on top at 15:15.

The home side tied it once more, midway through the second stanza, as Connor Loft supplied the equalizer and knotted the affair at 2-2 after 40 minutes.

Hickner then provided the eventual game-winner 5:49 into the third before Paul iced it with an insurance effort in the late going to round out the scoring on the evening.

Andrew Rocha turned aside all 12 attempts he faced in relief to register the win for French River in just under 30 minutes of work.

Rapids’ starter Jason Goes stopped 12 of 14 in his time between the pipes.

Lia Austen was peppered with 20 shots in the third period and 27 overall in defeat for the Express while Adam Scott started for Espanola and handled 18 of 19 in a period and half or work.

Two more league exhibition contests are on the docket Wednesday as the newly minted Hearst Lumberjacks host the Cochrane Crunch at Claude Larose Arena while French River entertains the defending NOJHL champion Powassan Voodoos back at Noelville Arena in a pair of 7 p.m. starts.

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