FRENCH RIVER – The Espanola Express trio of Devon Savignac, James Eng and Bradley Brunet combined for 10 points to help lead them to a 7-4 victory over the French River Rapids in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action Friday at the Noelville Community Centre.
It was all Express in the opening 20 minutes as they skated out to a 3-0 lead after one period of play.
Skating four-on-four, a nice cross-crease pass by Brunet found a waiting Eng, who one-timed a blast past Rapids netminder Ben Montgomery at 7:25.
Special teams then helped the guests tack on two more, via the power play, as Cameron Walker spun in front and whipped in his first of the campaign followed by Savignac burying a quick shot from the high slot.
Moving to the middle stanza, the Express kept on track as Cole Delarosbil collected his club’s third extra-man marker of the night at 7:47 on a back hander coming off a face off win.
Savignac then went upstairs, blocker side, midway through the match-up to put Espanola up by five and spell the end of Montgomery’s night in favour of back-up Cole Sheffield.
Buoyed by the change, French River countered with goals just over a minute apart to make it 5-2.
Griffin Simpson got the first one as his attempt towards the front of the net hit an Express defender and skipped in before Kyle Munyankuge stuffed in a loose puck from in close at 12:28 for his first NOJHL tally.
Savignac then finished off a hat trick as the Express forward roofed a wrist shot from between the circles.
Answering that, Simpson put in his second of the evening as he picked the corner from the right side.
Each team would convert once in the third period thanks to Walker of Espanola and Simpson’s third of the night for French River to round out the scoring.
The hat tricks were the third of his career for Savignac while Simpson supplied his first.
Carson Boutin made 30 saves to record the win for the Express.
Montgomery suffered the defeat, allowing five on 25 shots while Sheffield stopped seven of nine in relief.
The two teams will meet again Saturday back in Noelville in a 7 p.m. start on HockeyTV.com.
Game Photos: Dal Photography