ESPANOLA, Ont. – A goal-filled Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League get together Friday at the Regional Recreation Complex saw the Espanola Paper Kings defeat the French River Rapids 7-5.
Needing just 30 seconds to strike first, French River’s Connor Picard was there to stuff one by Espanola starter Jake Marois, while parked on the left side of the crease.
Countering just over four minutes later, the Paper Kings drew level when Cayden Kowal burst past a Rapids’ defender then ripped a shot by the glove of netminder Matthew Perdue.
Trading tallies in latter stages of the period, Lucas Signoretti picked up his 16th of the campaign for the home side as he finished off a two-on-one with Devin Mauro by making a crafty outside-inside move on Perdue and neatly tucking the puck into the open side.
Striking shorthanded before the break, Picard potted his second of the contest as he darted down the ice on a man-down breakaway and roofed one on Marois.
Espanola responded in a big way to start the second stanza by scoring three times before the session was four minutes old.
Mauro’s first as a member of the Paper Kings came at 1:34 as he connected on the power play by whipping in a one-timer from the high slot.
They then saw Spencer Horgan convert a couple of minutes later following a number of chances the home side had.
Coming right back off the draw, Simon Rokhlin put an end to Perdue’s night, just 20 seconds later, in favour of back-up Ben Gustafson, with a short-side effort.
Exchanging markers in the back half of period, Espanola went to the dressing room up 6-3 after two.
Will Bourre scored for French River by sliding one through the legs on Marois while Alexander Christopoulos clicked on the power play from the top of the crease.
Up a skater early in the third, the visitors pulled back to within two when Matthew Campanella neatly tipped one in for his 10th of the season.
Special teams then helped the Rapids to make it 6-5 as Josh Russell was left with a tap in from the side of the net while his team had a man advantage.
That saw the hosts opt to make a goaltending change as Creedon Dyck came in and went the rest of the way.
The Paper Kings eventually put the game away in the late going after Joshua Romolo buried a rising long-range empty netter from deep in his own zone to cap off the win.
With the outcome, Espanola improved to 17-13-2-2 overall while French River fell to 6-28-0-1.
MAKE-UP GAME: The NOJHL has finalized a make-up game for the Rapids that was suspended back in September against the Soo Eagles.
That contest will now be completed on Wednesday, January 25 and will get underway at 7 p.m. at Pullar Stadium, in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.