BLIND RIVER, Ont. – A wild finish saw the Rayside-Balfour Canadians eventually prevail with a 6-5 shootout triumph over the Blind River Beavers in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Saturday at the Blind River Community Centre.
It was the visiting Canadians who collected the night’s opening tally when Oliver Smith slammed in his 10th of the campaign at 3:01.
Answering back quickly, the Beavers drew even a couple of minutes later off the stick of Lucas Adams.
Picking up one of the assists on the player was Blind River captain Caleb Serre with his helper seeing him match the franchise record for career points at 202, joining former Beavers’ standout Drew MacMillan, who accomplished the feat back in 2011.
Rayside-Balfour came back though to regain the lead midway through the first on an Avery Chisholm effort.
They then went up by a pair early in the second period thanks to a Mitchell Martin effort.
Pulling closer, Blind River made it 3-2 late in the middle stanza when Jack Tos connected at 17:07.
Into the third, the Canadians went up by two when Gavin Brown buried one on the power play at 6:47.
Despite that, Serre would establish a new team-mark for points as he was in on Justin Mauro’s 10th with just under nine minutes to play in regulation.
Serre was not done there as he tied it at 13:05 with his 22nd marker of the season.
However, the Canadians countered just 15 seconds later to go back in front following a Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis goal.
The drama continued when the Beavers’ Nathan Balkwill banked in the tying tally just a fraction left on the clock before time expired from the side of the net.
Following a scoreless overtime, it went to the shootout to decide things.
After each side missed on their first two chances, Brown skated in for Rayside-Balfour and from close range, neatly lifted in a back hand high over top of Jackson Hjelle, who entered the contest for the Beavers following the fifth Canadians goal.
Serre was them stymied twice by Nicholas Heinzle after it was ruled by the officials that the first attempt had been interfered with by the Rayside-Balfour bench, but in the end, the Rayside-Balfour goalkeeper saved them both to come away victorious.
Heinzle finished with 43 saves in the win.
Dominic Boily started for Blind River and allowed the five against in regulation on 34 changes before giving way to Hjelle with 6:40 left in the third.
Hjelle made four stops in relief and suffered the setback.
The two sides will now cap off a weekend home-and-home Sunday in a 6:30 p.m. start at Chelmsford Arena.