CHELMSFORD, Ont. – A Camilo Rodrigue-Melo marker in the fourth round of the shootout proved to be the difference as the Espanola Express pulled out a 5-4 road victory over the Rayside-Balfour Canadians in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League play Thursday at Chelmsford Arena.
The visiting Express got on track early as Zach Trempner notched his eighth marker of the season just 52 seconds into the contest.
Espanola then extended their cushion midway through the contest on a Mattia Salem effort.
Battling back, Rayside-Balfour countered with a pair of tallies, 18 seconds apart, courtesy of Nicholas DeGrazia, who returned to the Canadian line-up after helping Canada East win silver at the World Junior A Challenge, as he collected goals 15 and 16 on the year to knot the affair at 2-2 after two.
Striking early in the third, the Express went back in front at 1:23 with Lukas Lyszyk giving the guests a 3-2 cushion.
However, the home side countered quickly once more with Samuel Vachon supplying the tying tally moments later.
Trading chances, Espanola scored once more at 6:34 with Bradley Brunet putting in his seventh of the season.
With time running down, Rayside-Balfour picked up the night’s initial man advantage opportunity and made full use of it as that, along with their netminder out for an extra attacker, helped Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis redirect in a right point shot to tie things up at 18:10.
Neither side would convert in a scoreless overtime, so it went to extra shots to decide a winner.
Each team scored once each among the first trio of shooters to keep things going.
Then in round four, Rodrigue-Melo converted on his chance while Express starter Carson Boutin stymied RBC to give the guests the win.
Boutin made 47 stops in 65 minutes of work along with three of four in the shootout to record a well-deserved victory.
Canadians netminder Andrew Rocha faced 28 shots in defeat, but saw his club collect a point.