ESPANOLA, Ont. – Oliver Smith scored three times to register his first Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League hat trick and added an assist to help propel the Rayside-Balfour Canadians to a 6-3 decision over the Espanola Express Friday evening at the Regional Recreation Complex.
Rayside-Balfour needed just 45 seconds to commence the night’s scoring when Smith notched his 15th goal of the season to give the guests the early lead.
He then sniped another at 5:07 to put the Canadians up by a pair.
Battling back before the first frame was complete, Espanola tied it on late tallies from Josh Boucher and Tyler Nelson.
Down a man in the second stanza, Rayside-Balfour regained the lead thanks to Brady Maltais’ man-down marker at 6:20.
They then got their two-goal cushion back midway through the night on a Benjamin Hatanaka effort.
Still clicking offensively, the Canadians collected their third marker of the session as Smith finished off his three-goal night.
The Express got their second final-minute effort of the night deep in the session when Nelson notched another to make 5-3 at 19:15.
In the third though, Maltais added his second of the evening midway through to add some insurance and wrap things up offensively.
Mathieu Dokis-Dupuis had a big night for his side, dishing out four assists in the RBC triumph.
Making 29 stops, Canadians netminder Nicholas Heinzle posted the win.
Espanola starter Joel Rainville allowed four against on 22 attempts and suffered the setback while Carson Boutin saved 11 of 13 in over 29 minutes of relief.