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Rayside-Balfour bounces Espanola for 4th straight win

ESPANOLA, Ont. – Zacharie Giroux and Matthew Belanger had two goals and an assist each while Oliver Smith tallied twice as the Rayside-Balfour Canadians skated to an 8-3 road victory over Espanola Express Friday in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up held at the Regional Recreation Complex.

Rayside-Balfour came out quickly, skating to an early 2-0 lead as Gavin Brown and Smith gave the guests a cushion before the contest was 10 minutes old.

Espanola got one back at 13:32 as Josh Boucher connected on the power play to cut into the deficit.

Late in the frame though, Belanger buried his first of the evening at 19:34 as the Canadians carried a 3-1 lead into the intermission.

The second stanza was all Rayside-Balfour however as they struck four times to snag a 7-1 cushion after two periods of play.

Belanger started the offensive outburst during a man advantage before Dylan Bertrand and Giroux twice scored in a 55-second span to break it open.

After Smith added to the Canadians lead in the third, the Express picked up late markers from Jonah Devereux, at even strength, and Boucher, on the power play once more, to round out the night’s scoring.

Recording his first NOJHL win was Canadians netminder Nicholas Heinzle, who finished with 31 saves in the triumph.

Espanola’s Andrew Rocha and Joel Rainville both saw time between the pipes in defeat, facing a combined 41 attempts for the Express.