If not for the Powassan Voodoos, the Rayside-Balfour Canadians would have quite the string of wins assembled.
Still, a streak that has seen the local NOJHLers capture ten of their last twelve encounters, vaulting into second place in their division, one point ahead of the Elliot Lake Wildcats, is nothing to sneeze at.
Nicky Grose fired a shot, through traffic, with just over three minutes to play, beating Rayside netminder Jessie Morin and lifting the visiting Voodoos past the Canadians 4-3 Sunday evening in Chelmsford.
The only other loss, dating back to late October, sustained by coach Jason Young's troops, was a 2-0 setback administered by the same opponent, in Powassan, on November 14th.
And truth be told, the Canadians put themselves in a position to emerge victorious for a seventh straight encounter last night, trading goal for goal with a Voodoos squad that now boasts a season record of 21-4-0-1.
Grose and Rayside defenseman Jayme Forslund exchanged goals in the opening twenty minutes, with the Powassan pairing of Tyler Peters and Aaron Dart matching the Canadians combo of Bradley Chenier and Ryan Erickson in the second.
In fairness, the Rayside-Balfour lads were coming off a big 6-2 triumph over the East Division front-running Cochrane Crunch (22-5-1-2) Saturday night at home, as Chenier potted two tallies and a helper to lead the way.
Kyle Fransen, Brett Whitehead, Danny Lepage and Otis Goldman rounded out the scoring, while Joe Thielen and Aviv Milner replied in a losing cause.
A tough week of hockey continues for Rayside in the days ahead, travelling to face the Soo Thunderbirds (23-3-0-0) on Wednesday, and back home next weekend for a two game set against the Wildcats (15-7-4-1) and T-Birds.
The task in recent weeks has not been made any easier through a depleted roster, with the Canadians sometimes dressing as few as 15 skaters. In late November, the team announced, with mixed feelings, the signing of 17 year-old defenseman Ryan Mooney with the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL.
"We are really excited to have a player as skilled as Ryan join our back end - and a rare right shot defenceman", noted Moncton Director of Hockey Operations Roger Shannon in a team-issued release.
"Ryan is only 17 and we will look to him for years to come as our power play QB." If the news is a bittersweet pill to swallow, perhaps no one senses those mixed emotions more than father, and Rayside-Balfour team owner, Mike Mooney.
"Obviously, we would liked to have seen him finish the year in Rayside, from the standpoint of what he could do for our team," said Mooney. "But we are in the business of moving kids on. We would have loved to see (former Sudbury Nickel Capitals forward) Dylan Callaghan play with us again this year, but he moved on (signed with Gatineau Olympiques)."
A 14th round draft pick of the Sudbury Wolves in 2014, Mooney was not included on the local OHL's team most recent protection list, opening the door for the move to New Brunswick.
"They (Moncton) indicated some interest a few weeks back," said the senior Mooney. "They had been following games on Fast Hockey, and once Ryan was selected to play for Team NOJHL (at the Eastern Canada All-Star Jr A Challenge in Cornwall in November), they sent a scout to watch."
"A couple of days later, the manager from Moncton gave us a call. There has been some school interest," Mooney continued. "We had felt that Ryan's development was most suited for that (NCAA). We weren't going to give up the school part of it, which was the most important part, so it had to be the right deal to equal a scholarship in the NCAA."
As for the role the smooth-skating blueliner is expected to play, safe to say the Wildcats understand exactly what they are getting. "They've indicated that they need a power play defenseman, so he will play that, and a regular shift," said Mooney.
"I know from a defensive side of it, they're not going to match him up against the other team's number one line. They'll work on the defensive side of his game, for sure."
In addition to the loss of Mooney, the Canadians have been without the services of defenseman Yanic Hébert since November 8th (still a month away or so), as well as forward Brody Brunet (should be back this week).
Rayside has dressed affiliated rearguards Ryan O'Bonsawin and Mathieu Quenville for a handful of games, but are quite likely keeping their eyes open to acquiring another veteran on the back end.
In league news, Rayside captain Ryan Erickson was selected as the Gongsgow Gear Player of the Month for November, with linemate Bradley Chenier honoured as Gongshow Gear Rookie of the Month.
Combined with Otis Goldman, the trio have racked up an incredible total of 73 points over the course of the past seven games.