CHELMSFORD, Ont. – A battle of goaltenders saw the Rayside-Balfour Canadians pull out a thrilling 1-0 victory that required a seven-player-aside shootout to decide it over the Soo Eagles in an entertaining Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League match-up Sunday night at Chelmsford Arena.
Action in the opening 20 minutes saw Rayside-Balfour outshoot Sault Ste. Marie 12-7, but neither starting netminders in the Canadians David Bowen and the Eagles Shane Brancato would not flinch as they kept the contest scoreless.
It was more of the same over the next two frames as each netminder was equal to the task as the score stayed knotted at 0-0 through three periods of play.
A free-wheeling five-minute OT featured furious action and saw both sides produce glorious chances to end it, but like they did in regulation, the game’s goalkeepers stood tall, denying quality opportunities by both clubs to send the contest to extra shots.
Needing extra attempts to determine a winner, neither club would connect on their first six chances to keep it scoreless.
Trying for a seventh time, the Canadians’ Jett Leishman broke the deadlock as he darted in and snapped a quick shot past Brancato.
Needing to score to keep things going, the Soo was stymied by Bowen, one final time, to end it and give Rayside-Balfour the additional point on the night.
Both Bowen and Brancato are credited with a shutout in the contest.
Bowen finished with 37 saves through 65 minutes of play and stopped all seven attempts he faced in the shootout while Brancato handled 44 pucks in regulation and OT as well as six of seven in his shootout shots.