Photos: Cassy Seguin
FRENCH RIVER – A Matthew Shulist shootout marker and a save by Brady Dyer were the eventual difference makers in a 7-6 win by the French River Rapids over the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners Saturday in a high-scoring Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair at Noelville Arena.
The visiting Gold Miners started strong by striking 50 seconds into the match-up, thanks to Cameron Lee’s first NOJHL goal that saw him put a blast by a screened Rapids’ Brady Dyer from the point.
Countering at 5:36, French River knotted the score at 1-1 courtesy of Kai Clayton’s initial league offensive effort, when he took his time cruising down the left wing before snapping a shot through Kirkland Lake’s Connor Davis.
Answering right back on the power play, the visitors went back in front after Jonah McIndoo collected his opening tally as he whipped in a loose puck from the top of the crease that Dyer could not control.
After Shulist tied it again off a nice inside move on a Kirkland Lake defenceman prior to picking the corner, the Gold Miners went right back on top courtesy of a man advantage marker off the stick of Jesse Dupuis, who buried a blocker-side shot for his NOJHL-leading sixth goal of the season.
The tallies kept coming in the second stanza as the clubs combined for another five goals, featuring the first three by the Rapids and the final two compliments of the Gold Miners.
Cameron Jansa tied it at 3-3 by finishing off a nice hesitation pass from teammate Brandon Melsness.
They then saw Michael Christopoulos strike twice moments apart for his opening NOJHL goals to chase Davis in favour of Kirkland Lake back-up Braydon Garnhart.
Christopoulos initial effort was a sharp snap shot from the left circle and he then followed that up by corralling a giveaway behind the net and tucking it into the open cage.
The back and forth play saw the Gold Miners counter as Cole Ellis, on the power play, and Benjamin Armatage, at even strength, evened the count at 5-5 after 40 minutes.
On the Ellis effort, he was teed up by fellow defenceman Bruce Grey, which allowed him to hammer a blast from the right side that flew into the top corner of the net.
As for the Armatage equalizer, he got behind the Rapids’ defence and went in on a partial break and beat Dyer at 14:12.
Action in the third saw Kirkland Lake collect their fourth on the power play when Noah Woodard pumped a shot on net that Dyer stopped, but saw Joseph Bastien-Picard quickly bury the rebound upstairs at 6:40.
Answering that, the Rapids clicked on the PP themselves with under seven minutes remaining in regulation, Jansa went right to the net off the draw and had a couple of cracks at a loose puck before eventually jamming it in.
After a scoreless overtime, Inde Abresch of the Miners and the Rapids’ Daniil Grishachev traded crafty tallies, via dekes, before Shulist used some solid moves of his own to give French River the edge.
Dyer then out-waited Dupuis on the night’s final chance to make the save and give French River their first win of the season, improving to 1-5-0-0.
With a point in defeat, Kirkland Lake’s record went to 2-2-1-1.