Photos: Jeremy Seguin
FRENCH RIVER – A Jordan Bax effort in the fourth round of the shootout helped the French River Rapids rally from a two-goal third period deficit and pull out a 6-5 decision over the Espanola Paper Kings Sunday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League meeting at Noelville Arena.
Collecting the opening tally of the contest was French River at 18:30 of the first period as Carson Laronde carried the play along the boards, into Espanola territory, then spun back and fed Adam Boucher who fired his second of the season over the glove of Paper Kings’ netminder Mitchell Webb, from the top of the left circle.
Heading to the middle session, the Rapids extended their edge midway through the proceedings thanks to Bax notching his fourth of the campaign as he chipped in a rebound of an Alexandre Dubuc shot during a two-on-one.
Roaring back, Espanola scored twice, eight seconds apart, to knot the affair at 2-2.
Graydon Guthrie’s first in the NOJHL at 11:08 got the guests going as he finished off Blake Peters-Davey attempt on target that was initially saved by French River starter Brady Dyer.
Coming right back off the draw, Peters-Davey tied it as he buried a crisp cross-ice feed from Jack Lynes.
Regrouping, the Rapids’ Dubuc put the home side back on top moments later as he wired one off the post and in with a hard wrist shot from the left circle.
Back and forth they went as Atley Gringorten supplied his team-leading eighth of the season for the visitors while zipping one through a maze in front from the high slot.
Not done there, Espanola took their first lead at 17:40 after Yan Bessette deposited a second chance he had at the right side of the crease on Dyer, while the clubs skated four aside.
Up by one entering the final frame, and on a two-man advantage, the Paper Kings added their lead when Conor Walton had a give-and-go with Guthrie before ripping one over the shoulder of the French River goalkeeper from up high.
Getting that back, Chase Thompson of the Rapids blocked a shot and darted down the right wing on a partial break then whistled one that flew by Webb at 3:45.
It was more from the home side a minute later after Jack Ginocchi snagged a turnover and dished it off to Matthew Campanella, who moved in and lifted a rising backhand for the equalizer.
Espanola opted to make a goaltending change after that marker, as Creedon Dyck entered and went the rest of the way.
Dubuc almost had another for French River, with seven and a half minutes to go, but his clear chance rang off the cross bar and went out of play.
After the OT failed to provide a result, it went to the shootout to determine a winner.
With Dubuc and Spencer Horgan trading top shelf markers through three attempts, Bax won it by weaving in then depositing the decider into the bottom right corner to give French River the additional point.
The win for Dyer helped the Rapids improve to 3-8-0-0 on the season while Espanola dipped to 6-5-1-2.
“Highlight of the Night” – NOJHL YouTube Channel