Cochrane convincing in Game 3 win over Rayside-Balfour

COCHRANE, Ont. – The Cochrane Crunch stormed out to an early four-goal lead and added six power play markers in all as they cruised to an 8-2 triumph over the Rayside-Balfour Canadians Thursday in Game 3 of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League championship series at Tim Horton Event Centre.

With the result, the Canadians lead the best-of-seven affair is trimmed to 2-1 heading into Game 4 Friday night at 7 p.m. back at Tim Horton Event Centre.

Cochrane was quick to connect catching Rayside-Balfour on a line change that helped send Zach Hayes in alone on a breakaway where he made no mistake snapping a shot past Canadians’ netminder Brayden Lachance at 1:54.

Going to the power play, they added to their lead five minutes later as Levi Johnson corralled the rebound from in close off a Connor Lovie point shot and slammed in his fourth of the playoffs.

Continue to impress offensively the Crunch added another seconds after that with Austin Whelan whipping one past Lachance.

Cochrane kept coming and picking up another man advantage added to the onslaught as Lovie fed Kyle Herbster on a give-and-go, who fired one in from the left face-off circle at 16:23.

Rayside-Balfour got on the board early in the third after Jacob Partridge darted into the Crunch, cut right and was stopped by goalkeeper Shayne Battler, but Kyle Liinamaa was left with a tap in into the open net at 1:42.

However, Cochrane’s third power play marker of the night put them back up by four a couple minutes later as Herbster notched his second of the game by burying a T.J. Delaney feed from behind the net to spell the end of Lachance’s night in favour of Jean-Marc Brisson.

Power play tally number four for the Crunch put the game out of reach with Delaney tucking one in at 6:33 with assists going to Herbster and Lovie.

They then tacked on their fifth man advantage effort with five and a half minutes to go as Herbster finished off a hat trick with another from the left face-off circle.

Thomas Hernandez supplied Cochrane’s six power play effort in the contest before Noah Serre wrapped up the night’s scoring while the Canadians were up a man with 2:19 to go.

Herbster finished with five points on the night while Lovie doled four assists and Delaney had his goal and three helpers.

Battler made 33 saves to record the win.

Lachance suffered the loss allowing five against on 30 attempts while Brisson handled 20 of 23 in relief.

The NOJHL champion will advance to represent the league at the Dudley-Hewitt Cup, May 1-5, in Dryden, Ont.

All NOJHL postseason contests are streamed online live and on demand via

NOJHL Playoffs

Series I
Rayside-Balfour Canadians vs. Cochrane Crunch
Rayside-Balfour leads best-of-seven series 2-1
Game 1: Rayside-Balfour 2 Cochrane 1 (OT)
Game 2: Rayside-Balfour 4 Cochrane 1
Game 3: Cochrane 8 Rayside-Balfour 2
Game 4: Friday, April 20 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game 5: Sunday, April 22 @ Rayside-Balfour 4 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
Game 6*: Tuesday, April 24 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Game7*: Thursday, April 26 @ Rayside-Balfour 7 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
*- if necessary