GALLERY: Greater Sudbury skates past French River

PHOTOS: Caleigh Fera – Sudbury Light Event Photography

SUDBURY, Ont. – The Greater Sudbury Cubs got two goals apiece from Oliver Smith and Ben Lacroix to help propel them to a 6-2 victory over the French River Rapids Thursday in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action at Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.

There were some quality chances at both ends in the opening frame, however neither side would convert offensively, as they hit the first intermission still in search of a goal.

Breaking the scoreless tie, near the 12-minute mark of the second period, French River worked the puck free deep in the Greater Sudbury zone and eventually saw Dominic Bzdyl snag it near the crease, and put a feed back in between the hash marks, where Pijus Zemaitis ripped it over the shoulder of Cubs’ netminder Noah Beaulne.

Answering with a late equalizer, the home side drew level in the final moments of the session as they broke out of the own end in numbers and completed a nice three-way passing play before Smith whipped a quick shot through the legs of Rapids’ goaltender Elijah Grant at 19:37.

On the power play to begin the third, Greater Sudbury wasted little time in taking the lead after Josh Kavanagh moved in from the point and put a low attempt in front that was steered in by Lacroix, who began the play by winning the draw.

French River countered with a tying marker of their own at 4:15 when Matthew Stringer picked the right corner on Beaulne off a Jesse Lefebvre set-up.

Countering quickly, the Cubs retook the lead just a minute later, with Smith notching his second of the evening, as he roofed a short-range shot to the left of Grant.

Adding some insurance in the back half of the session, Hudson Chitaroni went in and split the Rapids’ defence before sending a blocker-side sizzler, to collect his 18th goal of the season, which leads all NOJHL rookies.

Kavanagh then added to the Cubs’ cushion with a man advantage effort off a nice move into the high slot where he snapped one in at 14:51.

Lacroix then finalized the result with a shorthanded, empty netter in the late going.

The win sees Greater Sudbury improve to a league-best 25-7-0-0 on the year, while with the loss, French River falls to 8-23-1-0.