The Rayside-Balfour Canadians were forced to work overtime and then some, but a first victory of the 2019-2020 season made it all seem worthwhile in the end.
Veteran David Bowen came out on top in a classic battle of the goaltenders, turning aside 37 shots through regulation and a five minute OT session, and adding seven more saves in seven shootout attempts, for good measure, as the Canadians edged the visiting Soo Eagles 1-0.
Jett Leishman was the only one of 14 shooters to find the back of the net in the penalty shot showdown, as Eagles' puckstopper Shane Brancato matched Bowen, save for save, registering 44 stops as well as his 6/7 performance to finish things off.
The contest was a tame affair, with only five minor penalties and one double minor assessed by the game officials, with Rayside going 0/5 on the power play while the Eagles fired blanks on their two opportunities as well.
Leaping immediately into third place in the NOJHL West Division with their record of 1-2-0-0 (2 pts), Rayside-Balfour is now squeezed between the front-running Blind River Beavers and Soo Thunderbirds (both at 2-0-0-0), and the Espanola Express (0-1-1-0) and Soo Eagles (0-1-0-1) directly behind them.
It is a quiet week ahead for coach Dan Cuomo and his troops, with just a home encounter on Thursday in Chelsmford against the French River Rapids in play before the team embarks on what amounts to a three-game road trip, over the course of one week.