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Curtiss Sturgeon OT Heroics Win it for Nepean

by Romano Di Franco

BROCKVILLE, ON – The Nepean Raiders returned to action kicking off 2023 year with a trek to the Brockville Memorial Centre to take on the Brockville Braves. It was the fourth meeting between the two teams with Brockville having a 3-0 lead in the season series including a blanking of Nepean in their previous meeting. Both teams entered the contest 2-3 in their last five games. The Raiders came into the game after a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Junior Senators while Brockville entered the contest with a 2-1 loss to the Rockland Nationals.

Gage Stewart (1-11, 3.40 GAA, 0.908 SV%) got the nod in goal for Nepean while Philip Rondina (4-5, 3.09 GAA, 0.908 SV %) got the start between the pipes for Brockville.

It was the Braves who struck first with a short-handed goal after Colin Elliot stripped the puck from Jack Matsukubo in the Braves zone and went in on a breakaway and going forehand-backhand and sliding the puck through the five-hole. The unassisted goal was Elliot’s 10th of the season and it gave Brockville a 1-0 lead.

Not to be outdone, the Raiders got a short-handed goal of their own after a poor-clearing attempt by Colin Elliot in his own zone led to a turnover that Brandon Reinisch pounced on and then found Jordan Grahame in the slot who wired the puck over the glove hand of Rondina and richocheting off the left post and into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

The period ended with Nepean outshooting Brockville 6-4.

The Raiders took a 2-1 lead after a Nicholas Larkin shot from the point was deflected in front of the net by Luca Ricciardi. Rondina never had a good look with both Ricciardi and Braves defenceman Trent Ledrew screening the Braves netminder. The PowerPlay goal was Ricchiardi’s sixth of the season and came with Nathaniel Burelle in the box for Tripping.

After 40 minutes the Raiders held the lead despite being outshot in the second period 11-8 but Gage Stewart made several outstanding saves to stymie Brockville.

Anthony Rivard extended the lead to 3-1 deflecting a Josh Reid shot from the point. Nicholas Larkin had the second assist on the goal.

The two-goal cushion was short-lived after Trent Ledrew scored on a shot from the point through four players that Stewart never had a chance to track.

Jake Laville thought he had tied the goal after deflecting the puck but the goal was immediately waived off after it was deemed to have been deflected on a high stick. Referee Travis Coughlin was in a prime location to spot the infraction and did not hesitate to make the call.

Brockville had a second goal disallowed moments later after Gage Stewart was injured on a goal-mouth scramble.

The Braves pulled Rondina for the extra attacker and it paid off as Jake Laville got the equalizer. His pass attempt appeared to richochet off of Jackson Barnes’ skate and past a startled Gage Stewart.

Curtiss Sturgeon was the overtime hero giving the Raiders a 4-3 victory and Stewart backstopped Nepean to his second win of the year and the team’s first two-game win streak since back on October 9-10.

Shots on goal were 34-22 in favor of Brockville but it was Nepean fleeing town with the “W”.

Nicholas Larkin (1G | 1A) was named the game’s first star. Curtiss Sturgeon (1G) had the game winner and earned the second star. Lucas Culhane got the nod as the game’s third star.

Gage Stewart (31 saves on 34 shots, 0.912 SV%) was named the Hardest Working Raider. Honourable mention goes to Luke Posthumus whose two assists leapfrogged him into first place in the Rookie scoring race ahead of Carleton Place Canadian Caton Ryan.

Nepean is in action again in two days’ time as they host the Cornwall Colts at the Nepean Sportsplex Steve Yzerman Arena for a 2:30 pm puck drop.

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