By Romano Di Franco
NEPEAN, ON – The Raiders were at home on Sunday as they hosted the Rockland Nationals. It is the first meeting of the year for the two teams.
The Nationals came into the game in sixth place in the Yzerman Division after the Raiders leap-frogged them with a big win over the Cornwall Colts in their last game. Both teams sport a record of 2-3 in their last five games. The Raiders come in on a 1-game winning streak while the Nats are on a two-game skid.
Jack McGovern (3-8) got the start in goal for Rockland while Connor Shibley (4-5-1, 4.57 GAA) was between the pipes for Nepean.
The Raiders went on the PowerPlay just 12 seconds into the game after Jack Meloff was booked for Tripping. Rockland killed the penalty but ten almost immediately went down a man once again as Tucker Shields was assessed a slashing penalty after interfering Costa Touliopoulos who was surging towards the Nationals goal. It was deja-vu all over again as the Nats killed off the penalty and then committed yet another infraction to send the Raiders on their third PowerPlay in the first five minutes of play. This time it was a Too Many Men on the ice penalty that the Nats killed off.
A Rylan Iwachniuk Hooking penalty gave Rockland their first opportunity on the man-advantage but they too came away empty.
It was the Rockland Nationals that opened the scoring after Justin Dauphinais stole the puck off of Samuel Beaulne and skated in beating Shibley over the glove.
The game got heated when Todd Northgrave and former Raider Patrick Larkin were assessed 5-minute fighting majors. The Raiders came away with a PowerPlay after Larkin was also given an Instigator minor but the Nats killed it off.
After 20 minutes Rockland was ahead 1-0 despite the Colts having a commanding lead in shots at 20-5.
The Nats extended the lead to 2-0 on a point-shot by Hugo Marcil with a ton of bodies in front of the net screening Shibley. It was Marcil’s first CCHL goal.
The Raiders cut the lead in half after Ryan Liverman took the puck up the right side and fed Jeff Taylor who dropped the puck back to Coleman Bennett. He made no mistake one-timing it off the glove of McGovern and into the net for his fourth goal of the season to make it 2-1 Rockland.
It was a much better second period for the Raiders as they outshot the Nats 11-6 to take the overall lead in shots at 19-16. However, after 40 minutes Rockland held on to a slim 2-1 lead.
Rockland went ahead 3-1 early in the third period when Giovanni Morneau got his fourth goal of the season. The Raiders replied with a goal just nine seconds into a PowerPlay that saw Jack Meloff go off for Roughing. Jeff Taylor won the faceoff to the left of McGovern. The puck eventually found Ryan Liverman who threw the puck to the Nats goal and Owen Hollingsworth poked it in to close the gap to 3-2. It was Hollingsworth’s seventh of the season.
The Raiders had a chance to tie it when Dean Taylor went to the box for High Sticking. The Raiders pulled Shibley to play 6-on-4 but barely escaped an empty-net goal. Shibley would go back and forth from the bench to the net as the Raiders pressed for the equalizer. The Raiders could not capitalize on the PowerPlay but with Shibley once again on the bench for the extra attacker the Raiders were looking for a hero with a face-off deep in the Rockland zone. After winning the draw, the Raiders moved the puck back to Coleman Bennett who sent a point-shot past McGovern to tie the game with just 1:09 left on the clock.
Bennett would also be the overtime hero. Tyler Melvin intercepted a Justin Dauphinais pass deep in the Rockland zone and fed Jeff Taylor who found a pinching Bennett at the doorstep for the OT winner.
Raiders Captain Coleman Bennett (3G) was named the first star, Jeff Taylor (2A) got the nod for second star while John Mulvihill (2A) earned the third star for Rockland.
Owen Hollingsworth who started the comeback was named the hardest working Raider.
The Raiders are in action again on Friday night as they take on the Navan Grads at the Navan Memorial Centre for a 7:30pm puck-drop.