Through most of the first period and parts of the second, the rust was evident.
No normalized game play since March of 2020 had taken a bit of a toll on the youthful Greater Sudbury Cubs lineup.
The third period, however, was an entirely different story. Clearly finding their legs, the Cubs rode a game-tying marker from Pierson Sobush and a game-winner from veteran defenceman Carter Geoffroy to a 2-1 pre-season win over the French River Rapids.
Thankfully, the locals boasted one player in mid-season form, right out of the gate, with goaltender Joel Rainville standing his ground early, the Rapids outshooting the Cubs 7-0 at the midway point of period one.
"I'm just trying to make some saves and help keep the team in it so that when they are ready to go, I'm giving them a chance to win," noted the 20 year-old puckstopper who was acquired from the Espanola Express during the 2020-2021 season.
Levi Siau managed to put French River on the board late in the first but that would be all of the scoring until the 5:07 mark of the final frame, with Sobush whacking home a loose puck off a scramble and teammates Cameron Shanks and Kyler Campbell drawing assists.
The Geoffroy tally would come with overtime looming as a shot from the point through a crowd found the top corner, rewarding the goaltender who stopped 26 of the 27 shots that were fired his way.
"This summer, I was on the ice with the Foligno brothers three to four times a week," said Rainville. "That was a big thing for me. Those guys are top notch, with great shots. It helped me a lot with my reflexes."
As for a general assessment of his game, Rainville was a typical goalie - focused first and foremost on the one that got past him.
"I would like to have that goal back; I thought I was shuffling a bit too fast," he said. "Other than that, I would like to track the puck a bit better, but that will come with time. This was the first game that everyone had played in a while."
"The third period was just phenomenal by the guys," adding Rainville. "Hats off to them for that."
The same two teams meet up again this evening, this time in Noelville.