Espanola Rivermen rely on balanced scoring to secure first-ever CIHL win

ESPANOLA – A strong opening period carried the hometown Espanola Rivermen to its first-ever Canadian International Hockey League victory Friday night, an 8-4 decision over the visiting St. Charles Spirit.

The Spirit, who came into the game with a 2-0 record, scored first with a goal from Alex Hester just 4:35 into the first. Then the Rivermen gave the 771 fans in attendance something to cheer about with four unanswered goals from Adrian Nicholas, Brandon Major, Alex Zerbel and Cameron Anklewich, all coming within a three-minute span.

The Spirit tried to claw back into game with an early second period goal from Synee Coonishish to make the score 4-2, but the Rivermen scored two more times in the period on goals from Cole Braney and Zack Pregent to up the count to 6-2. St. Charles got another marker before the end of the frame from Scott Marshall to close the gap to 6-3.

Espanola upped the score to 8-3 with two from Andrei Yanovich and Zerbel to end the home team’s scoring. Hester got his second of the game midway through the game to close out the offence for both sides.

“The home opener was a great success both on and off the ice tonight,” said Espanola head coach Tom McCarthy. “It was great to see last year’s fan support be duplicated with even greater enthusiasm to start this new season in a new league. Our boys showed they’re starting to understand Riverman hockey. We certainly aren’t complete yet but tonight’s effort sure shows a lot of excitement to come.”

“It was great to see the momentum of the CIHL gaining more and more from week to week, as we played in front of almost 800 North Shore, Espanola and Manitoulin Island fans. A great season opener for the Rivermen with a big win at home,” said Espanola GM Chad Clarke.

“Full credit to a extremely well-coached Rivermen team,” said St. Charles head coach/GM Scott Ginson. “They stuck to there game plan from puck drop to the final buzzer. We played a very individual style of game and got away from doing the little things that make us successful. We will take our medicine and use this as a learning tool.” added Ginson

Espanola’s record now stands at 1-1 for the season.

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