by Romano Di Franco
NEPEAN, ON – The Nepean Raiders faced the Rockland Nationals in the final meeting between the the two teams this season. The season series was tied at two wins each making this game the deciding contest. Rockland came into the game off a 5-0 victory over the Pembroke Lumber Kings while Nepean was on the short side of a 5-2 score against the Navan Grads.
Luke Posthumus has been having himself a terrific season as he leads all rookies in scoring with 13 goals and 19 assists for a total of 32 points in 41 games, a total good enough for first on the squad with Joshu Reid, 28 pts, and Owen Hardy, 25 points rounding out the top three.
Hadyn Gould (12-14-3-1, 3.03 GAA, 0.905 SV%) started in goal for Rockland while Luca Sandu (6-14-1, 4.41 GAA, 0.895 SV%) got the start in between the pipes for the Raiders.
It was a pretty quiet first period that saw Victor Barakett get the lone goal of the period as he banged home a rebound off the boards from a Cameron Bergeron shot that went wide. The goal came from point-blank range with Sandu having no time to react. Kyle Leonard pinged a shot from the left faceoff circle off the far post and Owen Hardy had a chance that was whistled offside and that was the closest either team came to scoring in the rest of the period.
The first period ended with the Nats leading 1-0 after outshooting the Raiders 14-6.
Kyle Leonard was snake-bitten again in the second period as he rattled another shot off the post this time off the near side. Luke Posthumus got the Raiders tied with a great finish taking the puck away from the boards before moving into the high slot and rifling a shot off the crossbar over the trapper of Gould and into the back of the net. Luca Ricciardi and Nicholas Larkin got the helpers on the PowerPlay goal that came with Tim Cousineau in the box for Unsportsmanlike Conduct.
Owen Hardy would put Nepean up 2-1 with a carbon-copy goal of Posthumus’ earlier effort beating Gould from the same spot in the slot and into the exact same spot over the Rockland netminder’s glove. Harris Hilfiker and Luke Posthumus picked up the apples.
After 40 minutes this time it was Nepean who had the better period with a pair of goals on 14 shots while Sandu turned aside the 11 shots he faced in the middle frame.
Rockland came out hungry in the third period scoring two goals early just 68 seconds apart. First it was Patrick Lanthier on a dipsy-doodle play in front of the Raider goal and then Nicolas White all alone on the doorstep to put Rockland up 3-2.
Nepean tied it up on a 2-on-1 by Alex Boileau and Jack Matsukubo that culminated in Boileau’s first CCHL goal. Harris Hilfiker started the play and picked up his second assist of the game after Boileau’s low blocker-side shot eluded Gould.
The Raiders pulled Sandu for the extra attacker with two minutes to go. They got a break when a puck deflected off Hardy’s stick and was tracking towards the Nepean net but he was able to take stop it before it crossed the line. The Raiders had a fair share of chances during their 6-on-5 but it was Rockland who scored as Patrick Lanthier beat Jack Matsukubo five-hole into the empty net to make it a 5-3 final.
Rockland almost netted another goal but with seconds remaining but the Raiders managed to clear the puck off the goal line on a last-second opportunity.
Nepean netminder Hadyn Gould (34 saves on 37 shots) was named the game’s first star. Patrick Lanthier (2G) was the second star while Luca Sandu (37 saves on 41 shots) picked up the game’s third star.
Alex Boileau (1G) is named the Hardest Working Raider after picking up his first CCHL goal.
Nepean plays next on Valentine’s Day when they visit the Carleton Place Arena – Rink 1 to face the Carleton Place Canadians for a 7:15pm puck drop.
Be sure to Subscribe, Like and Comment on the official Nepean Raiders YouTube channel and catch every goal.