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Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018
Canadians battle their way to series lead
by Randy Pascal

These Rayside-Balfour Canadians have some fight in them, and not just the kind that lands them in hot water with NOJHL commissioner Rob Mazzuca.

The Canadians overcame the absence of a pair of key offensive contributors, out of the lineup due to suspensions, and found a way to bounce back, even after surrendering a third period lead in the span of just 44 seconds, grabbing a 2-1 series lead over the Soo Thunderbirds with a 4-3 win Wednesday on the road.

With Evan Krassey (leading scorer - served 9th of 10 game suspension last night) and James White (6th in team scoring - served 2nd of 10 game suspension) both missing in action, others have stepped up to fill the void for Rayside.

Offensively speaking, none moreso than the trio of Kyle Liinamaa, Ryan O'Bonsawin and Gabriel Rheault. All three were among the keys to victory in game three.

Tristan Cicchello jump-started the attack for the homeside, scoring at 6:56 of the first period, but Liinamaa would get that one back 20 seconds prior to the end of period buzzer, burying his 6th goal of the playoffs, second only to Derek Seguin (Timmins - 7 goals) in that department.

A strong showing in the middle stanza had the Rayside crew feeling pretty good about themselves after Matt Neault and Jacob Partridge staked the visitors to a 3-1 lead. O'Bonsawin drew an assist on each and every one of the first three Canadians' markers.

Unfortunately, a pair of penalties late in the frame would prove costly as Cicchello completed his hat-trick with a pair of tallies with his team holding a man advantage (a two-man advantage on the first of these), pulling the T-Birds even less than two minutes into the final frame.

But with momentum clearly turned against the Rayside men, it was five year NOJHL veteran Gabriel Rheault who would find the back of the net for the game-winning goal, converting on passes from Noah Serré and Ethan Lavallee at 5:31 of period three.

Brayden Lachance continued his strong play between the pipes for coaches Steve Lauzon, Vagelli Sakellaris and Clayton Bertrand, registering another 41 saves in picking up the win.

The teams go at it again this evening at 7:30 p.m. in Sault Ste Marie, returning to Chelmsford for game five on Sunday, with a rare 4:00 p.m. start time for that encounter.

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