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Canadians earn the split with a solid effort at home

God only knows what 2021 holds in store for all of us.

But in the world of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, at least the Rayside-Balfour Canadians will have something to build on whenever the season resumes in the new year.

Backstopped by an outstanding 38 save performance from rookie goaltender Jake Marois, the local NOJHLers snapped a two-game losing skid, earning a series split with the Blind River Beavers thanks for a 5-2 win Sunday evening in Chelmsford.

With the exception of a disconcerting string of penalties, most notably in the third period, this contest was about as solid an effort, from start to finish, that coach Vagelli Sakellaris has enjoyed from his squad in their ten games to date.

"The number one thing was not to get down on ourselves," noted 18 year-old defenceman Carter Geoffroy, as the early season acquisition made his presence felt at both ends of the rink. "In the first game (against Blind River), we got up 5-0 in the first period, and then we got over-confident, maybe a little selfish, and the guys would get down on themselves whenever something bad would happen."

"We did much better in keeping each other up, cheering on the bench."

A good start certainly facilitated that process, as the Canadians jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead on power play goals from Brady Maltais and Gavin Brown. The teams traded goals in period two, a tally from Meguire Naughton (Blind River) offset by a strike from Maltais, before Owen Perala basically put this game to rest, deflecting a shot from Geoffroy as Rayside scored for the third time with the man advantage.

Looking more and more at home in his ninth game with the club, Geoffroy picked up an assist on the play, manning the blue-line on the power play. "Being the quarterback, I need to make those passes from the point to the wings, keeping the puck in the zone," suggested Geoffroy.

"When they get bodies in the lane, it usually means that the goalie has less vision. You want to walk the line and have the guys moving, get them so they are not in front of your stick, that they're in front of my body."

"The stick will always have a better view than you, so put yourself in your stick's position and fire it on net."

Suiting up with the St Catharines Falcons of the GOJHL last year following the conclusion of his time with the Niagara North Stars AAA hockey organization, Geoffroy is confident that his move to Sudbury is a positive next step for his personal development.

"This is a big upgrade from last year," he said. "I'm not the fastest player in the world, but the speed here is pushing me to get faster, to get better. That's one of my downfalls and I'm working on it."

An empty net goal from Michael Campbell capped off the scoring for the Canadians, who bounced back after dropping a 7-5 decision at home on Thursday and suffering a 5-2 loss Saturday afternoon in Blind River.

Jacob Kelly paced the attack for the winners in that affair with a hat-trick, wih Jared Dupuis and Noah Minns adding a goal apiece for the Beavers, while Owen Perala and Nick DeGrazia replied for Rayside-Balfour.

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