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Defending champion Crunch victorious with opening night decision over Rapids

COCHRANE, Ont. – A well-balance attack saw the Cochrane Crunch get goals from four different skaters as they went on to get past the French River Rapids 4-1 Friday evening in a Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League encounter at Tim Horton Events Centre.

On a night where they raised their NOJHL championship banner from last season to the THEC rafters, Cochrane and French River would engage in a tightly-contested match-up.

Caleb Dolman notched the game’s initial marker late in the first period as he finished off the work of Shaun Simpson at 18:26 of the frame.

Neither side would add any more goals in a scoreless second stanza.

Cochrane would break it open before the final frame was seven minutes old as Hunter Buzzi and Zach Hayes connected in rapid succession to put the home team up by three.

French River did get one back as Hunter Braziers’ first put the visitors on the board with a man advantage effort with 3:07 remaining in regulation.

However, Jacob Stos iced it the Crunch in the final minute to round out the night’s scoring.

Cochrane netminder Shayne Battler was solid making 45 saves to record the win while Rapids’ starter Kevin Tardif made 28 stops in defeat.