by Romano Di Franco
The Nepean Raiders played their final game of the CCHL Showcase at the Bell Sensplex – Canadian Tire Arena. They went head-to-head against the Carleton Place Canadians in a noon start on Thanksgiving Monday. Both teams entered the contest after losses in their previous game. Carleton Place lost in the Shoot-Out to the Pembroke Lumber Kings while the Raiders were on the short side of a 6-3 score against the Navan Grads.
Connor Shibley got the start in goal for the Raiders while Brady McEwan got the assignment between the pipes for Navan.
The Raiders have had some struggles on the season but this game was not one of them. The team put in their best performance to date and recorded their first shutout since February 25, 2018 when they blanked the Navan Grads 6-0.
Nepean struck first for the first time in the season when the newly signed Owen Hollingsworth one-timed a pass from Ryan Liverman by McEwan. Tyler Melvin got the other assist after stealing the puck in the offensive zone before dishing off to Liverman. They would extend their lead to 2-0 on a terrific coast-to-coast effort by Tyler Melvin who sped past Ethan Wallace and put it short-side over the blocker of Brady McEwan. After 20 minutes the Raiders were out in front and had the lead in shots as well at 12-10 with Connor Shibley making some outstanding saves to stone the Canadians.
The second period featured a little more physicality by the Canadians and their Boarding, Roughing, and Slashing penalties led to a 5-3 PowerPlay for Nepean that they capitalized on when Costa Touliopoulos slid one past McEwan after buzzing the net. It is hard to say whether the first period of the second was the best 20 minutes of the season for the Raiders. They held the Canadians at bay allowing Carleton Place their first shot in the middle period only after the ten-minute mark. Both teams had players shaken up in the second period as CPC forward Jackson Mowatt and Nepean forward Ryan Liverman both had extended stays lying on the ice after hits into the boards in separate incidents. Liverman would return later. After 40 minutes the Raiders had a 3-0 lead and 24-18 advantage in shots.
The Raiders started the third period on the PowerPlay after a Too Many Men penalty was assessed in the dying seconds of the second.
The Raiders PowerPlay got a ton of practice on the PowerPlay going 1-for-9 on the afternoon.
The Three Stars of the game were a Nepean Raider Sweep with Tyler Melvin (1G | 1A), Connor Shibley (30 saves, first shut-out) and Own Hollingsworth (1G) going 1-2-3.
Costa Toulipoulos was named the hardest working Raider.
The next game for the Raiders will be October 15 as the Kemptville 73s at the North Grenville Municipal Centre for a 7:30pm puck drop.