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GALLERY: Espanola hits the win column with 5-4 triumph over French River

ESPANOLA – James Eng tallied twice and dished out an assist to help power the Espanola Express to a 5-4 triumph over the French River Rapids in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Friday at the Regional Recreation Centre.

The home side needed just nine seconds to kick things off offensively as Devon Savignac went top shelf to send the hosts on their way.

It was more Express later in the session as Eng scored on the power play at 8:27, then saw Colton Wiacek put a cross-ice pass to a waiting Isaac Westlake, who banged in his initial league marker three minutes later.

French River did answer back before the first was done with Cooper Bowman getting the guests on the board at 16:44.

The goals kept coming deep in the session as Eng collected another before Ryan Smith countered for the Rapids just before the frame elapsed.

It was more from the guests in the second stanza as Troy Andrews made it a one-goal game with a man advantage effort at 14:55.

In the third, Luke Bibby made 5-3 early for the Express, only to see Bowman bury his second at 12:52 to make it interesting once more.

A late man advantage and taking their netminder out for an extra attacker allowed the Rapids a chance to tie and force a shootout, but Espanola held firm to register their first win of the season and improve to 1-0-2 on the campaign while French River slipped to 2-1-0.

Each side used both of their goaltenders on the night.

Owen Willis got the win in relief, saving 22 of 23 while Express starter Carson Boutin handled 11 of 14 in just under 36 minutes of work.

As for the Rapids, Hayden Willamson suffered the defeat in his relief stint, giving up two on 37 opportunities prior to Cole Sheffield allowing three on eight chances.

The clubs will meet again Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. back in Espanola.

Game Photos: Chelsea Solomon