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Canadians finish first in the West Division

Rayside-Balfour seals the deal with their latest in a franchise-high 40 wins 
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The Rayside Balfour Canadians won their latest pair of games over the weekend to hit a franchise-high 40 wins, closing out the season in the top spot of the West Division with 85-points. (File)

The Rayside Balfour Canadians won their latest pair of games over the weekend to hit a franchise-high 40 wins, closing out the season in the top spot of the West Division with 85-points.

Sudbury's NOJHL club kicked off their last road trip Friday, Feb. 28, to face the Espanola Express at the Regional Recreation Complex.

Motivated by their first regulation loss of 2020 the night before, Rayside-Balfour's offence wasted no time getting on the board. Mitchell Martin was the first to tally, scoring his 25th goal of the campaign two minutes into play for Sudbury, with an assist from Zacharie Giroux. 

Rayside-Balfour's Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis was right on his heels, matching his 2019 personal single-season best of 19 goals, 12:55 into the first period with Giroux adding his second assist of the game.

Jaydyn Parnell got Espanola on the board just before the buzzer at 19:58, assisted by defenceman Mattais Salem - his 50th assist of the season. 

Goaltenders Nicholas Heinzle of the Canadians and Joel Rainville of the Express held firm the rest of the contest, denying 34 and 33 shots respectively to maintain a 2-1 score. 

The Canadians had another speedy take-off Sunday, March 1, hosting the Cochrane Crunch at Chelmsford Arena. 

They potted their first goal just 78 seconds into play, off defenceman Zachary Snow's 10th goal of the season. Cochrane responded shortly after the midway mark of the period with Nicholas Grandy scoring his 20th goal 11:43. 

Matthew Minichiello pushed Cochrane ahead shortly thereafter off a feed by Hunter Buzzi, closing out the period.

Rayside-Balfour turned the tables deep in the middle frame, gifted with a four-minute power play that allowed Dokis-Dupuis to level the scoreboard. Zachary Snow buried the eventual game-winner a couple of shifts later, giving the Canadians a 3-2 advantage in the final frame. 

The Canadians sealed the deal in the third period off a goal by Oliver Smith into Cochrane's empty net. The game ended with a 4-2 final for Sudbury, with shots on goal favouring the Crunch 38-28. 

Picking up assists in the last two goals, Canadians' Nicholas DeGrazia finished the season tied for the NOJHL rookie scoring lead with a total of 61 points, alongside teammate Mitchell Martin. 

The Canadians have a week off until the division semi-finals, where they await the winner of the West Division quarter final best-of-three between the Soo Eagels and Espanola Express that runs from March 4-8. 

Find more information on the Junior A team here.




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