Photos: Dal Photography
FRENCH RIVER – Getting a pair of first period goals, including the eventual game-winner, from Dominik Godin helped send the French River Rapids on their way to 4-1 triumph over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Sunday in the 2022 Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoff opener at Noelville Arena.
Starting off by going end-to-end early, the two teams traded chances at a quick pace.
It was French River who ultimately opened the scoring as affiliate Alexandre Dubuc came flying down the left wing and fired a shot that was stopped by the pad of Kirkland Lake starter Keaton Lyons, but a hard-charging Devon Butler was right there to slam in the rebound, three and a half minutes into the proceedings.
Godin, who finished second in league play in goals, with 35, notched his first of the postseason, as he was right on top of Lyons to punch in a loose puck off an Abram Snider wrist shot from the right point at 13:35.
Not done there, Godin tacked on another for the home side a few shifts later as he wired one in from the high slot off a face off win by teammate Spencer Borg.
Coming out quickly in the second stanza, the Gold Miners got themselves on the board in the first minute thanks to Jacob Hiltz putting away the leftover from a Lucas Renzoni snap shot from inside left blueline past Rapids’ goalkeeper Cole Sheffield.
It tightened up defensively the rest of the middle frame as French River took a 3-1 lead into the intermission.
It stayed that way until right to very the end as Sheffield was stellar in keeping the visitors at bay the rest of way by helping keep his side in front before Chase Lefebvre secured the first-ever playoff win for the Rapids with a mid-ice empty netter in the final seconds to secure the victory.
Game 2 goes Monday night in a 7 p.m., start at Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake.
NOJHL East quarter-final
French River Rapids vs. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners
Rapids lead best-of-three series 1-0
Game 1: French River 4 Kirkland Lake 1
Game 2: Monday, April 4 @ Kirkland Lake 7 p.m. (Joe Mavrinac Community Complex)
Game 3*: Wednesday, April 6 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)