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West Division race tightens as Canadians edge Thunderbirds

SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – The race for first place in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s West Division grew ever-closer Sunday afternoon at John Rhodes Community Centre as the visiting Rayside-Balfour Canadians edged the Soo Thunderbirds 3-1.

The Canadians got on the board first as Evan Krassey collected his 19th goal of 2017-18 at 13:22, during a man advantage opportunity, while extending a point streak to five games in the process.

After a scoreless second stanza, Sault Ste. Marie drew level early in the third thanks to a Lucas Theriault power play marker at 3:12.

However Rayside-Balfour got that back at 8:57 when Baldino Aiello supplied the eventual game-winner.

Kyle Liinamaa then added some insurance for the Canadians as he scored for a seventh straight outing with seven minutes to go to help secure the road victory.

Brayden Lachance made 31 saves to pick-up the win while Brandon Gordon saw 39 shots against in suffering the loss.

With the result, 27-12-2-1 Rayside-Balfour now boasts a five-game winning streak and moves to within four points of a share for top spot in the NOJHL West with the 29-10-2-1 Thunderbirds. The Blind River Beavers meanwhile are just three points back and the Soo Eagles are only eight in arrears.

Photos courtesy of  James Egan’s Sports Photography