CHELMSFORD, Ont. – A Noah Cauchi power play goal 17:36 into the first period proved to the game-winner as the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners held on to edge the Rayside-Balfour Canadians 2-1 in a tight-checking, low-scoring, Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League affair Thursday night at Chelmsford Arena.
Rayside-Balfour came out quickly to open the scoring 32 seconds into the contest with Benjamin Hatanaka picking up his eighth marker of the season with assists going to Zachary Snow and Evan Krassey.
Kirkland Lake countered with the equalizer five minutes later with Hunter Foreshew setting up Patrick Murphy for his fifth to level the proceedings early.
A late man advantage helped the Gold Miners pick-up what would be the night’s final tally as Cauchi finished off the work of teammates Gregory Trudeau-Paquet and Quinn Schneidmiller.
The assist for Trudeau-Paquet helped him earn at least one point in seven straight league games he has skated in as well as in 11 of his past dozen outings and 13 of 15.
Throughout the contest it was a goaltenders battle as both Gregory Brassard in the Kirkland Lake net and David Bowen for the Canadians were impressive as they prevented any more scoring from there before time expired.
Brassard’s 35-save effort helped him produce his 12th win of the season and his team’s 18th overall as the Gold Miners moved back into first place in the NOJHL East standings with 36 points and a 18-7 record.
Their point totals tie them for top spot overall with the 18-5 West Division-leading Soo Thunderbirds.
As for Bowen, he was solid making 47 saves in the narrow defeat for Rayside-Balfour who slipped to 14-10-1-2 on the season.