CHELMSFORD, Ont. – The Rayside-Balfour Canadians second power play goal of the game, coming with 4:51 left in regulation, was the difference as they went on to edge the Blind River Beavers 3-2 Sunday in Game 2 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at Chelmsford Arena.
With the outcome, this best-of-seven set is now tied 1-1 heading into Game 3 Tuesday in Blind River at 7:30 p.m.
Like he did in the series opener, Kyle Liinamaa opened the scoring for Rayside-Balfour as he went in on a two-on-one following a high lob out of their own zone and snapped a shot past Blind River starter Garret Boyonoski 8:11 into the contest.
The Canadians added to their lead with the lone marker of the middle stanza as defenceman Scott Bagby pinched in from the right point and took a feed in front and fired home his first NOJHL playoff goal at 13:52 during a man advantage opportunity.
Blind River cut into the deficit seven and a half minutes into the third when Owen Robinson knocked down a clearing attempt out of mid-air then saucered a pass over to Jack Sampson in the slot, who in turn went high on Rayside-Balfour netminder Brayden Lachance.
The Beavers kept coming and were rewarded with the equalizer a few minutes later as Max Khull buried a rebound off a goal mouth scramble to knot the affair at 2-2.
Going back to the power play however, Rayside-Balfour notched the decider as Gabriel Rheault redirected a left point shot from Ryan O’Bonsawin from in front of Boyonoski to put the home side back in front for good.
O’Bonsawin assisted on both of his club’s man advantage efforts for a two-point outing.
The Canadians outshot the Beavers 48-45 in the contest with Lachance securing the victory while Boyonoski suffered the defeat in a sold goaltending battle.
West Division semifinal
No. 1 Rayside-Balfour Canadians vs. No. 4 Blind River Beavers
Best-of-seven series tied 1-1
Game 1: Blind River 4 Rayside-Balfour 1
Game 2: Rayside-Balfour 3 Blind River 2
Game 3: Tuesday, March 20 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 4: Thursday, March 22 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game 5: Friday, March 23 @ Rayside-Balfour 7 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
Game 6*: Sunday, March 25 @ Blind River 7:30 p.m. (Community Centre)
Game7*: Tuesday, March 27 @ Rayside-Balfour 5:30 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
*- if necessary
Photo courtesy of Rob and Caleigh Fera: www.sudburylight.ca