Ben Russell and Richard Dalton didn’t just narrow the gap on Canada’s top canoe tandem — they beat them.

Dartmouth’s Russell and Halifax’s Dalton made waves in Montreal on Saturday when they edged Russell’s older brother, Andrew, and his partner Gabriel Beauchesne-Sevigny of Trois-Rivières, Que., in the C-2 1,000 metres in season-opening Canadian sprint canoe-kayak national team trials.

Ben Russell and Dalton posted a time of 3:42.954, edging out the 3:43.275 mark put up by Andrew Russell and Beauchesne-Sevigny, a duo that went to the Beijing Olympics and has been consistently the nation’s best for the past four years.

Ben Russell also earned a solid third-place finish in yesterday’s C-1 1,000, while Dalton won the C-1 200 on Saturday.

Dalton’s win in the C-2 1,000 was big, but his triumph in the 200 made a statement in a discipline that is new to the Olympics in 2012.

“In my semi, I made a few mistakes in the wind and got off balance too much,” said the 2004 Athens Olympian, of the singles race. “I refocused for the final and stayed a lot more loose and concentrated on the finish line.”

The team trials determine who makes the national team for a pair of World Cup events in Europe over the next month, which in turn determine who goes to the world championships in August.

Among other senior finishes, Waverley’s Connor Taras was third in the men’s K-1 200; Lake Echo’s Genevieve Orton was second in the women’s K-1 200; and Dartmouth’s Jenna Marks was third in the women’s C-1 200.

Nova Scotia also posted outstanding results at the junior level, with wins from Dartmouth’s Jason McCoombs (men’s C-1 500) and Adam Tenwolde (men’s K-1 500); and Halifax’s Matthew Warner (men’s C-12 1,000) and Alex Irvin (women’s K-1 1,000).

Junior competitors as well as some senior racers are vying for spots at the 2011 junior worlds as well as berths on the junior and under-23 teams that will compete internationally in June.

Canoe-Kayak Canada will announce the national team rosters today.