by Romano Di Franco
SMITHS FALLS, ON – The Nepean Raiders travelled to the Smiths Falls Memorial Centre to take on the Robinson Division leading Smiths Falls Bears.
It was third of five meetings between the two teams and the last time they would face off in Smiths Falls. The teams are 1-1 in the previous two games with each winning at home. The Bears are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Brockville Braves while the Raiders are coming off an incredible come-from-behind shoot-out loss to the Carleton Place Canadians.
Luca Sandu (3-7, 4.16 GAA, 0.897 SV%) was in goal for Nepean while Will McEvoy (12-4, 2.98 GAA, 0.911 SV%) got the start between the pipes for Smiths Falls.
Nepean has matched up well to Smiths Falls so far this year having outscored their opponents 8-6 so far in the season series. The Raiders came into the game dominating the Top 10 in Rookie scoring with four players in the list. Luke Posthumus (6G | 8A | 14pts) while Luka Benoit, Nicholas Larkin, and Luca Ricciardi also making the grade. The Bears have the league’s top scorer in Sean James (20G | 17A | 37pts) and the tenth best as well in Owen Watson (11G | 18A | 29pts).
The first 20 minutes was another closely contested period with both goaltenders stopping all shots thrown their way. Sandu turned away 12 shots to McEvoy’s 11.
The Bears struck first to end a four-period goalless streak. It was Garrett Joss forcing a turnover behind the Raiders goal. He took the puck out in front and slipped it past a startled Sandu for the unassisted goal. Trevor Faucher extended the Bears’ lead to 2-0 a minute later beating Sandu on the shortside over the blocker.
On his next shift Faucher tripped Josh Reid causing him to fall awkwardly into the boards and Tyler Melvin came to his defense. The two teams did some jostling back and forth and the outcome was an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty to Sean James and a Check to the Head game misconduct penalty to Tyler Melvin.
Another two quick goals 29 seconds apart put Smiths Falls up 4-0 with Alec Hamady pocketing his seventh, and Conor Ronayne picking up his ninth. The fourth goal would chase Sandu from the game with Gage Stewart coming in in relief.
Colton McIntosh was a assessed a 2-and-10 penalty for a Check to the Head and Coleman Bennett scored on the ensuing PowerPlay to narrow the gap to 4-1. They almost got another goal moments later when Luka Benoit went in on a breakaway but his shot was stopped by the glove of McEvoy.
Nicholas Larkin was assessed with the games’ third 2-and-10 for a Check to the Head. Despite having kill off the penalty it was Nepean that had the better scoring chances with Tristan Caldwell being robbed by McEvoy near the end of the period.
After 40 minutes Smiths Falls led 4-1 outshooting Nepean 25-21 in total shots.
The Raiders came out and showed some desperation and it paid off as Owen Hardy netted his fourth of the season. McEvoy stopped Hardy’s first shot from the slot but he pounced on his own rebound and made no mistake the second time. The goal came on a pass from Kuke Posthumus. Coleman Bennet picked up his second point of the game on Hardy’s PowerPlay goal.
With just over five minutes to go in the third Trevor Faucher scored his second of the game to restore Smiths Falls’ three goal lead making it a 5-2 score.
William Labrosse came close to picking up his first goal in his first game as a Raider before Tristan Caldwell scored to make it 5-3. The play was started by a great effort by Coleman Bennett to keep the puck in the zone before he dished to Jordan Graham. Graham’s swipe was blocked and then Caldwell poked it home.
Thomas Gangl finished the scoring sending a shot from the point through traffic beating Stewart to make it a 6-3 final.
Trevor Faucher (2G | 1A) was named the game’s first star. Coleman Bennett (1G | 2A) nabbed the second star and Garrett Joss (1G) captured third star honours.
Tristan Caldwell is named the Hardest Working Raider picking up his first goal of the season.
Nepean has just three games left in the 2022 calendar year and will be back in action on Sunday afternoon as the host the Hawkesbury Hawks at the Nepean Sportsplex – Steve Yzerman Arena for a 2:30 pm puck drop.
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