Prolific performance by Partridge gives Rayside series lead
by Randy Pascal
Rayside-Balfour Canadians head coach Steve Lauzon has stressed, throughout his team's current playoff run, that a huge key to the success
of the local NOJHLers lies in receiving big contributions right across his roster.
Jacob Partridge is doing his best to make his coach look bad.
An 11th round draft pick of the Peterborough Petes in April of 2017, Partridge has been instrumental in helping to stake Rayside to a 2-0 series
lead in the NOJHL final opposite the Cochrane Crunch.
The soon-to-be 17 year old forward settled matters in game one Friday night, taking advantage of a penalty shot awarded to the Canadians late in the first
overtime period and lifting the homeside to a 2-1 win.
James White got Rayside-Balfour off and running, converting on passes from linemates Evan Krassey and Matt Neault just over three
minutes into the championship series.
That 1-0 score remain unchanged until just over a full period later, when Thomas Hernandez pulled Cochrane even, netting a power-play tally for the
Crunch. From there, attackers would give way to the goaltenders, most notably the Canadians' Brayden Lachance, who recorded no less 53 saves in the
contest (Cochrane's Shayne Battler finished with 29) as the teams played just under 78 minutes of hockey before a winner was determined.
Partridge was right back at it in game two. His three goal performance stole the show as the Canadians upended the Crunch 4-1, and are now halfway to
their first Dudley-Hewitt Cup appearance since the team moved from Sudbury to Chelmsford a few years back.
This encounter was every bit as tight-checking as the series ice-breaker the previous night, scoreless until midway through the second when Partridge
connected on the power-play, assists doled out to defencemen Jordan Spadafore and Shane Donovan.
Things opened up in the third, as Partridge completed his hat-trick, finding the back of the net twice in a span of just over three minutes. Kyle
Herbster got one back for the visitors before Gabriel Rheault hammered the final nail in the coffin, restoring the three goal advantage with
under two minutes to play.
Despite the victory, the Rayside lads were still on the wrong side of the shot clock, as the Crunch peppered Lachance with 47 pucks, while Battler turned
aside 41 of the 45 he faced at the other end of the rink.
The battle now shifts to the Tim Horton Event Centre in Cochrane for games three (Thursday, April 19th) and four (Friday, April 20th), returning
to Rayside-Balfour for another 4:00 p.m. start, next Sunday (April 22nd) in Chelmsford.