And so it is written. For Soo Thunderbirds, the off-season begins. For Rayside Balfour Canadians, the games will continue.
Bigger and more experienced, Rayside Balfour has sent the Soo packing on hockey vacation.
Back-to-back 4-1 victories — including the Game 6 clincher on Monday night at John Rhodes Community Centre in the Soo — has extended the season for Rayside Balfour and lifted it to the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League championship series.
Rayside Balfour will play the small market, big program, Cochrane Crunch in a best-of-seven series for NOJHL surpremacy.
The set begins with Rayside Balfour as the home team for Games 1 and 2 at Chelmsford Arena on Friday and Saturday of this week.
As for the Rayside Balfour-Soo series, the six-game set had a good overall pace and hum to it. The size and seasoning of the Canadians did appear to factor in their favour as the series sleighed on.
With Rayside Balfour in position to carry on its season for at least another four games against affable coach-general manager Ryan Leonard and his Crunch bunch from Cochrane, the Soo is on the sidelines after a better-than-expected 2017-2018 campaign.
Cast as a mid-level team in most circles prior to the start of the season, the Thunderbirds instead place second in the West Division standings before shrugging off a 3-1 deficit to upend the cross-river Soo Eagles four games to three in a semi-final playoff sizzler.
John Parco showed himself to be a good grade above the majority of the coaches in the 12-team NOJHL and was a reputable presence in his first season with the Thunderbirds, who stand to return a majority of their players for the 2018-2019 term.
NOJHL championship series schedule
Game 1: Friday, April 13 @ Rayside-Balfour 7 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
Game 2: Saturday, April 14 @ Rayside-Balfour 7 p.m. (Chelmsford Arena)
Game 3: Thursday, April 19 @ Cochrane 7 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
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.)