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GALLERY: Cubs blank Express in NOJHL season opener

Photos: Sudbury Light Event Photography

SUDBURY, Ont. – Greater Sudbury Cubs goaltender Joel Rainville turned aside all 27 shots he faced to post a shutout while backstopping his team to a 4-0 triumph over the Espanola Express Thursday evening in the 2021-22 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League regular season opener at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex.

The first-ever Greater Sudbury tally came 15 minutes into the contest as they broke out of their own zone on a three-on-two that saw Jaxon Bedard chip the puck over to Owen Perala on the wing, who promptly snapped a shot past Espanola starter Patrick Boivin from the right faceoff dot.

Carrying the play throughout the opening 20 minutes, the Cubs held a big edge in shots on goal and almost had another tally late in the period, but time had expired before the play could be completed.

Moving to the middle stanza, the Express found their skating legs and created several quality chances to level the proceedings but could not solve Rainville.

With the result of the quality goaltending the session was scoreless as the hosts carried their 1-0 lead into the second intermission.

In the third, the home side added to their cushion three and a half minutes in as Pierson Sobush darted out of his own end, up the middle of the ice, before cutting left and using an Espanola defender as a screen he buried one low blocker side for his first NOJHL goal.

A few shifts later, Boivin kept his club in it by thwarting the Cubs’ Nicholas Faught on a breakaway from close range.

However, the hosts secured the victory in the late going when Michael Campbell banked a chance off the boards that allowed Kyler Campbell to dash in on the left side where he fired an attempt that was stopped, but he quickly stuffed in the rebound at 18:34.

Greater Sudbury’s Cameron Shanks then rounded out the scoring in the final minute as he spun in the high slot and whipped one into the top right hand corner for his initial league marker.

The Cubs outshot the Express 38-27 on the night with Rainville picking up the win while Boivin suffered the defeat.

VENUE CHANGE: Due to the annual Big Nickel Hockey Tournament taking place in early November, the Greater Sudbury – Espanola contest on Thursday, Nov. 4 will now be played at Chelmsford Arena. Game time will be 7 p.m.

Game summaries, league standings, schedule information, statistics and other related news can be found online at NOJHL.com.

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