Canadians increase division lead with win over Rapids

CHELMSFORD, Ont. – Rayside-Balfour Canadians captain Matthew Neault tallied twice and assisted on two others to help propel his side to a 5-1 victory over the French River Rapids in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Thursday evening at Chelmsford Arena.

Neault began by setting up Evan Krassey for his 25th goal of the season just past the six-minute mark of the first period.

The NOJHL’s all-time leader in games played then made it 2-0 as he finished off a Krassey feed at 9:26.

It was more Canadians before the opening frame was out thanks to Christian Gaudreau connecting on the power play a few shifts later.

French River got one back early into the middle stanza as Donny Schultz struck just 10 seconds into the session, in what turned out to be the only marker of the frame.

James White added some insurance to Rayside-Balfour early in the third before Neault capped off the night’s scoring with a shorthanded effort at 17:29.

Krassey and Jacob Partridge both chipped in with two assists in the triumph.

Canadians’ starter Jean-Marc Brisson made 32 saves to record the win while Rapids’ netminder Andrew Rocha faced 33 shots in defeat.

With the result, the NOJHL West Division-leading Rayside-Balfour improved to 32-13-3-1 on the season while the French River fell to 11-31-5-0 overall.