Rayside-Balfour Canadians' forward Kyle Liinamaa has established himself as one of the NOJHL's top playmakers in his rookie season in the loop. Sunday night, however, his team needed his scoring touch, more than ever.
Liinamaa potted the game winning goal just under ten minutes into overtime as the Canadians cut the Blind River Beavers' best of seven series lead in half, down to 2-1, with a key 4-3 victory in Chelmsford.
Liinamaa captured the NOJHL Rookie of the Year honours, earlier this month, based largely on a stat line that produced 53 points, 41 of which came via the assist, tied for the sixth highest total in the league.
Following a scoreless opening frame, Rayside secured a second period lead on goals from Tristan Simm and Matthew Neault, sandwiched around a marker from Rockford Copiskey.
Yianni Liarakos (Beavers) and Evan Krassey (Canadians) traded goals midway through the third, before Blind River forced overtime thanks to a last minute tally from Mark Bastianello.
Owen Johansson registered the win in net for the homeside, finishing with 35 saves, while Myles Hektor earned third star honours with a 46-save performance at the other end of the rink.
The Beavers swept both of their first two home games in the West Division semi-final showdown, following up a 6-2 victory last Tuesday with a 6-3 win on Saturday night. Liarakos paced Blind River with a goal and three assists, joined on the scoresheet by Dylan McMahon, Noah Medalsy, Cole Peck, Caleb Serré and Peck, with his second.
Simm countered with a pair of goals for the visitors, with Krassey burying the final Rayside marker. The series resumes Thursday night in Chelmsford, as the teams prepare for an 8 p.m. puck drop.