BLIND RIVER, Ont. – A Christian Gaudreau goal 14:41 into overtime on a goalmouth scramble lifted the Rayside-Balfour Canadians to a 3-2 victory over the Blind River Beavers Thursday night in Game 4 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League West Division semifinal at the Blind River Community Centre.
The outcome levels the best-of-seven series at two wins apiece heading to Game 5 Friday at Chelmsford Arena at 7 p.m.
Blind River got on the board first while on an early power play as defenceman Matthew Murray ripped home his fourth of the playoffs at 4:11.
Rayside-Balfour came right back though to knot the affair at 1-1 as Taylor Woolcott tallied just 22 seconds later.
Down a man in the back half of the second stanza, the Beavers’ Josh Norman struck shorthanded at 16:17 to put the home side up by one after two.
The Canadians would force OT early in the third as Ryan O’Bonsawin scored on the power play 46 seconds into the session.
Moving on to the first extra session, Blind River had a number quality chances to end it, only to be denied by some stellar saves by Rayside-Balfour goaltender Brayden Lachance.
Using their netminder’s heroics to keep the contest going, the Canadians would counter and end it as they broke into the Beavers zone and some good work around the net by Kyle Liinamaa and Woolcott resulted in Gaudreau banging in the game-winner from close range past a sprawled Garret Boyonoski.
Lachance’s big night saw him make 61 saves to produce the win while Boyonoski faced 57 shots in a losing cause.
West Division semifinal
No. 1 Rayside-Balfour Canadians vs. No. 4 Blind River Beavers
Best-of-seven series tied 2-2
Game 1: Blind River 4 Rayside-Balfour 1
Game 2: Rayside-Balfour 3 Blind River 2
Game 3: Blind River 8 Rayside-Balfour 1
Game 4: Rayside-Balfour 3 Blind River 2 (OT)
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