Photos: Cassy Seguin
FRENCH RIVER – A Kai Clayton connection in the final attempt of the shootout lifted the French River Rapids to a 6-5 victory over the Hearst Lumberjacks Saturday in high-scoring Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action at Noelville Arena.
The lone marker of the opening 20 minutes came at 12:46 when French River’s newly acquired forward Sergy Suschensko found himself free in front and put one past a down Tristan Boileau in the Hearst net.
Answering with an equalizer early in the second, the Lumberjacks’ Mathieu Comeau stuffed in a backhand, off a rebound, at the 36-second mark.
The Rapids came back to retake the lead at 4:10 after Boileau misplayed a dump-in, which allowed Cameron Jansa to swoop in and put the puck into the open net.
Hearst came right back though, on the next shift, as Tyler Patterson took a pass from Ryan Miller and chipped it over the pad of Brady Dyer.
Taking their first lead, the visitors clicked on a man advantage after a Liam Boswell attempt appeared to clip off teammate Damien Bourdon-Lemoyne and get through Dyer.
Third period play saw French River tie it off a splendid rush by Clayton who went end-to-end before wiring one over the blocker of Boileau during a power play at 3:43.
The Rapids then went back in front a couple of shifts later as Matthew Shulist benefitted from a turnover and blasted it in from the high slot.
Back and forth they went with the Lumberjacks knotting it at 4-4 as DonHeaven Veilleux split the defence and went in alone and jammed in a goal for a third straight game.
Going ahead at 16:05, Shulist supplied another for French River while driving down the left wing and put a play in front that clipped off a defender and bounced in.
Coming back to force overtime, Hearst’s Noah Janicki pumped a shot from the point, through a maze in the late going, with their goalie out.
After a scoreless extra session, additional attempts were required to decide a winner.
There, Clayton was the only skater to convert as he came in slowly on his chance, before making a deke to his right and slipping it past the pad of Boileau to end it.
The result helps the Rapids move to 8-19-1-0 on the season.
With a point in defeat, Hearst goes to 11-9-3-2.