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Gage Stewart Makes 34 Saves in Loss to Navan

by Romano Di Franco

NEPEAN, ON – The Nepean Raiders hosted the Navan Grads in the back half of a home-and-home series at the Nepean Sportsplex Steve Yzerman Arena Sunday afternoon.

Navan prevailed in the first contest and the Raiders were looking to get even.

Both teams changed things up in the net with Braedyn McIntosh between the pipes for Navan while Gage Stewart got the nod in the Nepean goal.

Navan opened the scoring on a PowerPlay goal by Michael Urgo. It was a PowerPlay marker that came with Luka Benoit in the box for Hooking. Ryan Liverman was injured just before the end of the first period and he did not return. That was it for scoring in the opening stanza and after 20 minutes of play the Grads held a 1-0 lead on the scoreboard and a 14-10 advantage in shots.

The Raiders tied the game in the second after a face-off loss in the Grads end. Jack Matsukubo blocked a clearing attempt by Lucas Di Chiara and took the puck around McIntosh putting it into the vacated right side. Incredibly, it was Matsukubo’s third goal of the season and all three have been unassisted.

Both teams had plenty of chances in the second but both keepers were solid with Steward turning aside all nine shots he faced. Nepean outshot Navan 14-9 in the middle frame and the two teams went to the dressing room deadlocked at 1-apeice.

The Grads struck first in the third period on a goal by Mark MacPhee and later extended their lead to 3-1 on a PowerPlay goal by Owen Parsons who netted his 5th goal of the preseason in just four games to be tied for second place in goals.

Nepean made a game of it with just a minute to go in the game when Luka Benoit redeemed himself with a goal that eluded McIntosh just over the glove to bring the Raiders within one.

The home team came up just short but both keepers had solid efforts between the pipes and it was really anyone’s game to win. Navan closed out the pre-season with a perfect 5-0 record but today’s game had the narrowest of margins. Navan has outscored their opposition 27-8 and the Raiders could have squeaked out a win had McIntosh not stood on his head.

The Raiders closed out their exhibition series with a respectable 2-3 record.

Nepean opens the regular season at home at the Nepean Sportsplex Steve Yzerman Arena on Wednesday, September 21 when the Kemptville 73s come to town for a 7:30 pm puck drop.

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