SUDBURY, Ont. – The opening game of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs is set for 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon as the French River Rapids host the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in Game 1 of their best-of-three play-in series at Noelville Arena.
French River: 23-24-1-0 (4th NOJHL East)
Kirkland Lake: 12-33-0-3 (5th NOJHL East)
HEAD-TO-HEAD: The two NOJHL East Division sides met eight times during the course of the regular season, with the Rapids coming away victorious in seven of those contests.
Two of those meetings were decided by just one goal and another pair were determined via a shootout.
In all, French River outscored Kirkland Lake 41-31 in their games played against each other.
Sept. 24: @ Kirkland Lake (3-2 Rapids – SO)
Sept. 25: @ French River (9-4 Rapids)
Oct. 7: @ French River (8-5 Rapids)
Oct. 29: @ Kirkland Lake (5-2 Rapids)
Nov. 19: @ Kirkland Lake (4-3 Rapids)
Dec. 10: @ French River (4-3 Rapids – SO)
Feb. 5: @ French River (5-1 Gold Miners)
March 2: @ Kirkland Lake (8-7 Rapids)
NOJHL East quarter-final
French River Rapids vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Game 1: Sunday, April 3 @ French River 4 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 2: Monday, April 4 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 3*: Wednesday, April 6 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
THE RAPIDS: Pacing French River offensively is a four-pack of highly-skilled forwards, in Chase Lefebvre, Cooper Bowman, Levi Siau and Dominik Godin, who all had 50-plus point campaigns.
Lefebvre (29g-37a-66pts); Bowman (25g-31a-56pts) and Siau (19g-37a-56pts) all finished in the Top 10 in NOJHL scoring, while Godin (35g-17a-52pts) was 11th in the league.
Griffin Simpson (5g-26a-31pts) and Adam Boucher (7g-21a-28pts) were their top two point producing defencemen.
Cole Sheffield led all Rapids’ goaltenders in wins with 13, along with a 3.04 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.
THE GOLD MINERS: Leading Kirkland Lake in scoring this season were first-year forwards Niklas Albrecht, Ryan Evenhuis and Luciano Supino.
Albrect led the team with 39 points, including a team-high 24 tallies.
Evenhuis and Supino were closed behind with 37 points apiece, having 14 and 10 goals respectively.
Camille Marcoux was also a 30-point-man for the Gold Miners.
Lucas Renzoni’s 29 point were tops among team defencemen.
Zachary Reddy saw the bulk of game action in net for Kirkland Lake, seeing nearly 1,200 minutes of time between the pipes.
UP NEXT: The winner of this series will meet the Timmins Rock in a best-of-seven East Division semifinal.
Photo credit: Denis Larose/DAL Photography