by Romano Di Franco
KANATA, ON – The Nepean Raiders opened up the annual CCHL Showcase with a match against the Pembroke Lumber Kings on Saturday. It was the first meeting of the season between the two teams. The Raiders entered the game off their second shoot-out loss of the year to the Cornwall Colts while Pembroke enters the game in search of their first point of the season.
Gage Stewart (0-3-0-2, 3.31 GAA, 0.906 SV%) was in goal for Nepean while Ben Forget (0-4, 3.06 GAA, 0.898 SV %) got the start between the pipes in the Pembroke goal.
Both teams feature some of the leagues top rookie scoring leaders. For the Luke Posthumus (2G | 2A | 4Pts) is in second place, Jack Matsukubo (2G | 0A | 2Pts) is in fourth, and Luka Benoit (1G | 1A | 2pts) is tenth while Vital Dinis (1G | 1A | 2Pts) and Josh Brady (1G | 1A | 2Pts) are tied for fifth.
The first period was all Nepean as they outshot Pembroke 17-4 but both keepers turned aside all the shots they faced and the period ended scoreless. The Raiders went 0-for-2 on their two PowerPlay chances and did not take any penalties in the first frame.
The two teams traded goals in the second period after Jack Matsukubo won a face-off in the Pembroke zone sending the puck back to Coleman Bennett who made a cross-ice to Tyler Melvin who one-timed a blast by Forget. Pembroke responded a few minutes later after a pinching Nick Foster sent a cross-ice pass over Stewarts right shoulder.
Nepean almost got the lead back but Nicholas Larkin rang a rebound in the slot of the left post to keep the teams even at 1-1. The Raiders got into some penalty trouble in the second after Shane Moodie was assessed a double minor for High Sticking. Matt Yeager capitalized on the man-advantage to allow Pembroke to take a 2-1 lead. Larkin took a Boarding penalty and the Lumber Kings made the Raiders pay again with their second PowerPlay goal of the period with Colin Vassallo extending their lead to 3-1.
After 40 minutes it was the Pembroke leading 3-1 on the scoreboard while Nepean held the edge in shots at 28-26. The Lumber Kings peppered Stewart with 22 shots in the second.
Nepean closed the gap on a Luka Benoit-Coleman Bennett give-and-go that saw Benoit take the puck out of his zone and skate past the entire Lumber King lineup before beating Forget along the ice and just inside the far post. Benoit’s third of the season made it a 3-2 game. Jackson Barnes was credited with an assist.
With the two teams playing 4-on-4 the Lumber Kings made it 4-2 after Josh O’Conner scored after a collision in the Pembroke zone allowed a 3-on-1 back the other way.
Gage Stewart was ejected from the came after some pushing and shoving in the Raiders crease. Luca Sandu came in in relief and gave up a goal to Cam Hicklin to make the final score 5-2.
Luka Benoit is named the Hardest Working Raider for his second goal of the season.
Nepean will be back at it on Sunday as they play their second game of the CCHL Showcase. Their opponents will be the Carleton Place Canadians for a 1:00pm puck drop. Nepean will conclude the Showcase with a match against the Navan Grads on Thanksgiving Monday for a 3:45 puck drop. All games will be at the Bell SensPlex in Kanata.
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