by Romano Di Franco
The Nepean Raiders opened their regular season against the Ottawa Junior Senators on Saturday night as they visited their cross-town rivals at the Jim Durrell Sports Complex. The match was the first of five meetings between the two teams this season.
Conor Shibley got the start in goal for the Raiders while William Desmarais was between the pipes for the Junior Sens.
The Junior Senators opened the scoring when Massimo Gentile went bar-down on a rebound from the top of the crease.
The teams traded chances before OJS went on the PowerPlay after a cross checking penalty by Adam Cater. Former Junior Senator Costa Touliopolous had the best chance on the ensuing PowerPlay and Desmarais had to be at his best to prevent a short-handed goal.
The period ended with some pushing and shoving after Massimo Gentile went to the box for Goaltendender Interference drawing Adam Cater and Todd Northgrave into penalties. After 20 minutes of play the teams headed to their respective dressing rooms with OJS outshooting the Raiders 12-7.
The second period started off with the Junior Sens on the man-advantage but the Raiders special-teams shut down the Junior Sens. The Raiders had a PowerPlay of their own when Sam Edwards went off for Tripping but came away empty.
The Raiders started to grab the momentum in the game when Ryan Liverman stole the puck in the attacking zone and dished it off to Tyler Melvin who was denied off a brilliant save by Desmarais. The Raiders then tied it up moments later when Liverman scored off a perfect feed by Anthony Rivard. Coleman Bennet picked up the other assist. Nepean took the lead just three minutes later after Louis Chabot blasted a shot from the slot past the Desmarais. Jordan Graham and Alex Bergeron got the helpers.
The Raiders got into penalty trouble late in the period and found themselves on a 5-3 Penalty Kill. OJS capitalized with just three seconds left in the period when Thomas Freel found Simon Isabelle on the door-step who sent the puck past Shibley who had no chance on the play. After 40 minutes the score was deadlocked at 2-2 despite OJS having outshot the Raiders 25-13.
The third started the same way as the second with the Raiders having to kill off another penalty. Just like the second period OJS came away empty. The Raiders’ best chance of the final frame came when Patrick Maule was stopped on a 3-2.
The Junior Sens went out in front 4-2 on two goals just 72 seconds apart when Edward Moskowitz and Thomas Freel found the back of the net.
The Raiders went on the man-advantage with about three minutes left in the third. They pulled Conor Shibley for the extra attacker to give themselves a 6-on-4 opportunity but OJS got the empty-net, short-handed goal when Philippe Jacques sent a backhand down the ice from 150 feet away to ice the victory for Ottawa.
The three stars of the game were Thomas Freel and Simon Isabelle of the Ottawa Junior Senators pulling down spots one and two while Nepean Raider centreman Ryan Liverman earned the third star with a one-goal effort.
Louis Chabot earned the hardest working Raider on the night as he registered his first of the young season. The line on Connor Shibley was 35 saves on 39 shots and an 0.897 save percentage.
The Raiders are back on the ice for a Sunday matinee against the Brockville Braves at the Steve Yzerman arena for a 2:30pm puck drop.