by Romano Di Franco
KEMPTVILLE, ON – The Nepean Raiders travelled down the 416 to visit the North Grenville Municipal Centre as they faced off against the Kemptville 73s for the second time this season. In their only previous meeting the 73s came away with a 5-3 after a pair of third period goals put them ahead to stay.
Both teams entered the game playing decent hockey as of late with the Raiders 3-2 in their last five games while the 73s are 2-2-1 in the same span. Gage Stewart (1-5 including 2 shoot-out losses, 3.27 GAA, 0.908 SV%) got the start in the Nepean Goal while Jacob Biron (2-3-2, 3.66 GAA, 0.895 SV%), son of former NHL netminder Martin Biron, was in goal for Kemptville.
Nepean entered the game with fourth best PK in the league and the top rookie scoring leader Luka Benoit (8G | 3A | 11 Pts) as well as the fifth-best rookie scorer in Luke Posthumus (3G | 3A | 6Pts).
Nepean would put that PK to the test in the first period as they allowed Kemptville a pair of PowerPlays with Luka Benoit (High Sticking) and Tyler Melvin (Slashing) getting the gate. The Raiders managed to kill off both chances and in between the two Kemptville man-advantages both Kai Rabuka (KEM) and Jordan Graham (NEP) were giving game misconduct penalties for fighting.
After 20 minutes the game was still looking for its first goal but the 73s had the edge in shots pelting Stewart with 15 shots to the six that the Raiders put on Biron. Luca Ricciardi had the best chance for Nepean on a 2-on-1 with Jacob Dupont but his blast was deflected by Biron into the netting.
It would be Nepean striking first for the eighth time in their 12 games. Joshua Reid snapped home a pass by one-timed Brandon Reinisch from behind the net. It was Reinisch’s hustle for a Nicholas Larkin pass that set up the play. It was Reid’s fifth of the season after scoring in the Raiders season opener and netting a hat-trick against the Carleton Place Canadians in the second game of the CCHL showcase.
The Raiders had a chance to extend their lead after Jack Matsukubo was awarded a penalty shot after he was interfered with by Wyatt Warner on a breakaway. Matsukubo could not capitalize however after losing the handle attempting to go backhand-to-forehand at the top of the crease.
Kemptville would get the equalizer after Ty White skated from his own blue line and used Devon Savignac as a decoy before blasting a shot from the top of the face-off circle that eluded Stewart before he could close the five-hole. It was also Whyte’s fifth goal of the season to make it a 1-1 game.
Nepean had a chance to regain the lead after a couple of Kemptville penalties gave the Raiders a two-minute 5-on-3 opportunity that they failed to capitalize on. In fact, as the penalties to Wyatt Warner and Grady Logue ended they both came out of the box and headed to the bench allowing Chase Lammi and Hunter Brazier a 2-0 chance that Stewart had to be sharp on and he was to turn aside Lammi’s attempt.
The second period was dead-even with both teams scoring once on 12 shots each.
Kemptville took the lead on a seemingly harmless shot by Matt Thomas from the top of the near face-off circle somehow found the five-hole and to beat Stewart. The unassisted goal was Thomas’s first CCHL goal.
The 73s extended their lead to 3-1 on Ty Whyte’s second goal of the game. His shot beat Stewart blocker-side and just found the inside of the post.
A late penalty by Gavin McDougall gave Nepean a final shot to get back in the game. The Raiders pulled Stewart for the extra attacker with the faceoff in the 73s zone but Ty Whyte won the race to the puck and put it into the empty net for the short-handed hat-trick goal.
The final was a 4-1 victory for the home team powered by a three-goal outburst in the third.
Kemptville nabbed the first two stars with Ty White (3G) and Matt Thomas (1G) going one-two while Nepean netminder Gage Stewart (33 saves on 36 shots) taking home third-star honours.
Josh Reid is named the Hardest Working Raider for his fifth goal of the season.
Nepean closes out their October schedule with a Sunday matinee game at the Nepean Sportsplex – Steve Yzerman Arena against the Ottawa Junior Senators for a 2:30pm puck drop.
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