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Canadians in a dead heat in NOJHL West Division

Four-game win streak propels Rayside Balfour boys back into the race
The Rayside-Balfour Canadians have put together a four game winning streak and are right back in the race in the NOJHL. (File)

The Rayside-Balfour Canadians have put together a four game winning streak and are right back in the race in the NOJHL.

A Matt Belanger goal with just 3:20 to play snapped a 2-2 tie Sunday evening in Chelmsford, lifting the hometown Canadians to a 3-2 win over the visiting Soo Thunderbirds.

The victory marked not only the third triumph in a four day stretch for head coach Danny Cuomo and the lads, but also pulled the Canadians dead even with the division-leading Blind River Beavers, their record of 21-8-2-0 exactly on par with the Beavers mark of 20-7-1-3.

Brady Maltais (RB) and Nick Smith (SSM) traded goals in the opening two periods, with Giordano Biondi (RB) and Cam Findlay (SSM) doing likewise in the third, before Belanger settled matters, burying his team-leading 16th goal of the year.

Cameron Lamour picked up the win in net for Rayside, turning aside 22 of the 24 shots that he faced, while Ethan Racz finished with 31 stops at the other end of the rink.

The contest came one night after the West Division heavyweights went toe to toe in Blind River, with a shootout needed to decide the outcome between the Beavers and the Canadians.

The two teams combined for nine goals in the opening two periods, with Brady Maltais forcing the extra session, netting the equalizer with under five minutes to play in the third. Following a scoreless three on three OT period, the Highway 17 rivals found the back of the net only once in the shootout, with Rayside rookie Mitchell Martin doing the honours in a 6-5 Canadians win.

Gavin Brown scored the first two goals of the game for the visitors, with teammates Zach Snow, Zacharie Giroux and the afore-mentioned Maltais also joining him on the scoresheet, while Devon Savignac (2), Christopher Mingus, Lucas Adams and Kyle Quinn replied in a losing cause.

The Canadians kicked off their weekend of good fortune with a 10-2 shellacking of the Elliot Lake Wildcats at home on Thursday, with Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis and Mitchell Martin scoring two goals apiece for the homeside.

Graeme Siren, Brady Maltais, Zacharie Giroux, Samuel Vachon, Nick DeGrazia and Oliver Smith also joined in the fun for the winners, while Eric Vanderhoff and Connor Taylor provided some offensive punch for the Wildcats.

Rayside-Balfour will now tackle a challenging three in three this week, with their postponed matchup in Sault Ste Marie vs the Thunderbirds from last Wednesday moved to this coming Wednesday (December 4th).

The team then returns home to host the Espanola Express on Thursday (December 5th), before travelling to Elliot Lake on Friday.