Branton Stops 35 in Loss to Hawks

by Romano Di Franco

HAWKESBURY, ON – The Nepean Raiders travelled to the Robert Hartley Sports Complex to take on the Hawkesbury Hawks. It was the third meeting between the two teams with Hawkesbury having the upperhand leading 2-0 in the season series. In fact, Nepean was looking for their first win over the Hawks since March 4, 2020.

The Hawks entered the game on a six-game win streak while the Raiders are coming off a 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Carleton Place Canadians and are 2-3 in their past five games.

Nepean started Joshua Branton (1-0, 4.80 GAA, 0.896 SV%) in goal while Dimitri Pelekos (12-7-3, 3.00 GAA, 0.917 SV%) was between the pipes for Hawkesbury.

Hawkesbury opened the scoring after Alex Fournier’s sharp-angle shot through traffic eluded Branton. The Raiders had nine shots in the opening frame but Pelekos was perfect as he backstopped the Hawks to a 1-0 lead after one period of play. Branton turned aside 14 of 15 shots he faced.

Hawkesbury made it 2-0 on a goal by Brandon Clarke who perched himself at the top of the crease and swiped home a behind-the-net pass from Aidan Stubbings. Luke Posthumus had Nepean’s best scoring chance of the second but his coast-to-coast rush was stopped once again by Pelekos. After 40 minutes of play the home team continued to have the upperhand while outshooting Nepean 14-9 in the second stanza to take an overall lead of 29-18 in the shot department.

Antoine Dorion gave the Hawks a three-goal cusion after he took the puck into the Raiders zone and split the defense before firing a shot that Brunon got most of but trickled across the line and into the Nepean goal.

Nepean’s best chance early in the third came on a break-away by Luke Posthumus who took a perfectly threaded pass by Shane Moodie to send him into the Hawks’ zone only to have his shot turned aside by Pelakos.

Landon Brownlee was johnny-on-the-spot to bang home a rebound after Branton made the initial save on a shot from the point. Brownlee’s 21st of the season gave Hawkesbury a 4-0 lead. Aidan Stubbings gave the Hawks a commanding 5-0 lead as he scored a carbon-copy goal burying a rebound from the same spot Brownlee had scored from earlier in the period.

Nicholas Brennan was booked for Hooking to give the Raiders a PowerPlay with just under four minutes to play in the game but could not muster any good scoring chances as they outshot Hawkesbury 12-11 in the third period.

The shutout loss ended Luke Posthumus’ scoring streak at eight games.

Dimitri Pelekos (30 saves, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%) was named the game’s first star. Aidan Stubbings (1G | 1A) took second star honours while Brandon Clarke (1G | 1A) got the nod as the game’s third star to give the Hawks a sweep of the three stars.

Josh Branton is named the Hardest Working Raider for stopping 35 of the 40 shots he faced.

Nepean’s next outing will be Sunday afternoon as they visit the Navan Memorial Centre to take on the Navan Grads for a 3:30pm puck drop in the second game of a very busy month of February.

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