GALLERY: Rayside-Balfour holds off French River comeback bid with 3-2 triumph

CHELMSFORD, Ont. – The Rayside-Balfour Canadians struck three times in quick succession in the first period, then withstood a comeback attempt by the French River Rapids before eventually prevailing with a 3-2 triumph in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Thursday evening at Chelmsford Arena.

Action in the opening 10 minutes of the contest was scoreless, however the Canadians clicked three times in a span of one minute and nine seconds after that to gain an early edge.

Rayside-Balfour got going offensively during a power play opportunity with Brady Maltais bulling his way out of the corner and lifting a backhand past Rapids starter Ben Montgomery.

Pressing the pace, the Canadians hemmed French River in their own zone and were rewarded as a rebound came to Mitchell Martin who promptly snapped in from the left of the crease into the open side for his first NOJHL marker.

Right off the draw they added another with Samuel Vachon dangling around a loose puck before sliding it over to Nicholas DeGrazia who banged in his initial league tally at 13:21.

Opting to make a change in net, Sebastian Woods entered for the Rapids and was stellar in over 40 minutes of relief.

Getting back into it, the guests got one back early in the second as Griffin Simpson corralled the rebound of a right point shot from Ty Chambers and calmly stuffed one in on Rayside-Balfour starter David Bowen.

Up two skaters later in the session, the Rapids pulled to within one at 7:31 thanks to a Kyle Avery effort to make it a 3-2 score after two periods of play.

Neither side would connect in the final frame though, which included French River having Woods out for an extra attacker for the final 85 seconds, as the Canadians held off the Rapids to help them win their second-straight outing.

Bowen finished with 27 stops to register the victory for Rayside-Balfour.

Montgomery suffered the loss for French River, allowing the three against on 20 attempts while Woods was spotless handling all 30 chances he faced in his lengthy stint.