Elford’s OT winner lifts Elliot Lake past Rayside-Balfour

ELLIOT LAKE, Ont. – David Elford’s second goal of the night, coming 1:11 into overtime, was the difference maker as the Elliot Lake Wildcats pulled out a 4-3 triumph over the Rayside-Balfour Canadians Friday in Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League action at Centennial Arena.

It was a historic start to the contest with veteran Rayside-Balfour forward skating in his 244th NOJHL contest, which established a new league record for most regular season games played in a career.

After a scoreless first period, the two sides took turns trading tallies in the second as they both scored three times in quick order.

Shane Donovan started things off for Rayside-Balfour, via the power play, six minutes into the middle session only to see Elliot Lake’s Elford knot the affair midway through the stanza.

Again the Canadians went back on top as Ethan Lavallee capitalized on a man advantage only to see the Wildcats’ Jacob Kelly do likewise for his team to tie it once more.

A third Rayside-Balfour extra man effort, coming off the stick of Gabriel Rheault, put the visitors back in front once more at 17:24, however Elliot Lake answered yet again with Brett Crook supplying the equalizer with 28 seconds remaining in the period.

Heading into the next session, it was scoreless thus sending it to extra time to try and determine a winner.

With the teams skating four players aside, it was Elford who was the hero for the home side as his second marker of the evening ended it in OT.

Nick Long had a couple of assists for the Wildcats, including one on the winner.

Logan Sawka was peppered with 62 shots in the contest and earned the well-deserved win for Elliot Lake.

Matty Mayhew played the first two periods for the Canadians stopping 26 of 29 along the way.

Brayden Lachance suffered the defeat in OT handling 14 of the 15 attempts he saw in relief.