FRENCH RIVER – An Adam Boucher wrist shot from the top of the left circle, a minute and 36 seconds into overtime, found its way in to give the resilient French River Rapids a 4-3 win over the Timmins Rock Monday in Game 3 of their Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League East Division semifinal at Noelville Arena.
With the result, the Rapids now trail the best-of-seven affair 2-1 as the two sides will now return to the same venue Tuesday for Game 4 at 7 p.m.
Timmins carried the play in the opening 20 minutes, could not solve French River netminder Brady Dyer as the clubs hit the first intermission still in search of a goal.
Notching the evening’s initial marker was the Rapids’ Connor Picard who went in and beat Rock goalkeeper Patrick Boivin with a shorthanded tally at 7:11.
The guests provided an equalizer after that and saw Felix Cadieux-Fredette fire a shot from up top that sailed through a maze of bodies into the upper left corner.
Retaking the lead before the second period break, French River knocked the puck away at their own blueline, which allowed Josh Russell to dart in alone on a breakaway, where he beat Boivin blocker side.
Coming out quickly in the third, Timmins drew level once more in the opening minute with Nicholas Frederick finishing off a third close-range opportunity the Rock had on Dyer.
The resilient Rapids kept coming and took the lead once more midway through the frame when Brandon Melsness corralled a loose puck in the left circle and ripped it into the top right hand corner.
Knotting the score yet again, with 5:56 to go, Lucas Lowe banged in a rebound off an Evan Grigor attempt to level the proceedings once more and help force extra time.
In the initial OT of the NOJHL playoffs, it was French River who prevailed when Boucher got the puck from Matthew Campanella and fired it through a screen by Boivin for the game-winner to give his side the hard-fought triumph.
NOJHL East Division semifinal
Timmins Rock vs. French River Rapids
Game 1: Rock 8 Rapids 2
Game 2: Rock 7 Rapids 0
Game 3: Rapids 4 Rock 3 (OT)
Game 4: Tuesday, March 28 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 5: Thursday, March 30 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Game 6*: Saturday, April 1 @ French River 7 p.m. (Noelville Arena)
Game 7*: Monday, April 3 @ Timmins 7 p.m. (McIntyre Arena)
Timmins leads best-of-seven series 2-1