Rayside-Balfour strikes twice in final minute to shock Hearst

CHELMSFORD, Ont. – The Rayside-Balfour Canadians shocked the visiting Hearst Lumberjacks by scoring twice in the last minute of play to pull out a dramatic 5-4 victory Sunday evening in an action-packed Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League contest at Chelmsford Arena.

Kyle Liinamaa staked Rayside-Balfour to the early lead and he connected for a shorthanded marker 4:38 into the contest.

Liinamaa then tacked on another two minutes into the middle stanza to put the home side up by a pair with his 23rd tally of the season.

However Hearst came right back and got themselves on the board 37 seconds later thanks to Spencer Silver who supplied his 17th overall.

The Lumberjacks then drew level a couple shifts later as Max Johnson notched the equalizer.

A couple of man advantage opportunities allowed Hearst to score twice more before the second period was complete as Silver and Samuel Bourdages both connected with their club up a skater.

The Canadians climbed back to within one at 8:39 of the third as Noah Serre finished off a Brady Maltais feed.

Then on a late power play, Rayside-Balfour tied it at 19:26 as Evan Krassey leveled the proceedings with his 24th tally of 2017-18.

Building on the momentum from that, the Canadians came right back and buried the game-winner a mere 11 seconds later from Serre to pull out the stunning comeback win.

Taylor Woolcott and Jacob Partridge both chipped in with two assists apiece for the hosts, including one each on the decider.

Silver had a couple of helpers for Hearst for a four-point night while Max Johnson supplied a pair of assists as well.

With the victory, Rayside-Balfour improved to 31-13-31 on the year and moved into first place in the NOJHL’s West Division with 66 points.

That’s one more than the Soo Thunderbirds and puts them two up on the Blind River Beavers.

Hearst meanwhile slipped to 19-25-2-1.

Brayden Lachance made 44 saves to pick-up the win while Matt Kustra faced 28 attempts in defeat for the Lumberjacks.

Photo courtesy of Rob and Caleigh Fera:  www.sudburylight.ca