by Romano Di Franco
PEMBROKE, ON – The Nepean Raiders travelled to the Pembroke Memorial Centre to take on the Pembroke Lumber Kings. It was the fourth meeting between the two teams with Nepean holding a 2-1 series edge including a 6-4 win over the Lumber Kings back on January 11.
Joshua Branton got his first start in the CCHL for Nepean while Ben Forget (8-19-2-1, 3.67 GAA, 0.892 SV%) shouldered the duties in the Pembroke goal.
Owen Hardy opened the scoring with an unassisted goal. It was the sixteenth time this season that Nepean drew first blood. It also gave Hardy a three-game scoring streak and extended his point streak to six games when he stole the puck in the Nepean zone and went coast-to-coast before beating Forget on a low shot to the blocker side.
Nicholas Larkin made it 2-0 Nepean with a blast from the point that deflected off the skate of Lumber Kings defenseman Josh Brady. Jordan Graham had the helper after having his own scoring chance stopped by Forget earlier on the same shift. Pembroke got one back in the final minute of the first from Pratt Stetson to send the two teams to the dressing room with Nepean out in front 2-1 despite being outshot 14-6 in the period.
The second period was complete mayhem as the two teams combined for seven goals in the period. Curtiss Sturgeon opened the middle frame with a pair of goals. The first coming on the PowerPlay when he sent a shot from the slot past Forget. Luke Posthumus drew an assist to extend his point-streak to six games and Larkin registered his 11th assist of the season. Sturgeon then combined with Tristan Caldwell and Jacob Dupont for his second goal sending an innocent looking shot at the Pembroke net from a difficult angle that somehow beat the Pembroke netminder.
The 4-1 lead did not survive the period as the Lumber Kings stormed back with three straight goals of their own coming from Cam Hicklin, Sacha Trudel, and Stetson with his second of the game.
Joshua Reid restored Nepean’s lead on a brilliant back-pass from Affiliate Player Alex Boileau from behind the net. Reid got just enough on the puck in the blue paint to send the puck trickling across the goal line.
Vital Dinis tied the game at 5-5 to bring the second period scoring spree to an end with two teams deadlocked at 5-5. Pembroke outshot Nepean 19-14 in the action-packed period.
Jack Matsukubo picked up his seventh of the season pouncing on a rebound on a shot from Alex Boileau from the half-wall. Boileau made a couple of dandy moves to beat two Lumber Kings before launching the puck at the Pembroke goal.
Nathan Duck then tied it again at 6-6 but Nicholas Larkin picked up his second of the game just a minute later to put Nepean up for good. Matsukubo did the heavy lifting on the game winner with a couple of nice moves before sending the puck to Larkin in the slot who made no mistake rifling a shot past Forget.
Luke Posthumus added one for good measure burying a shot off a terrific pass from Josh Reid who was tripped on the play and made the pass to Posthumus while lying on his back. Posthumus showed his finishing ability beating Forget through the five-hole. It was a season high eight-goal performance by Nepean to give them an 8-6 victory. Despite the high scoring game, Nepean has now shaved 40 goals off their goals-against from this time last season. Joshua Branton picked up his first win of his CCHL career.
Curtiss Sturgeon (2G) was named the game’s first star. Pratt Stetson (2G) took second star honours while Nepean’s other two-goal man Nicholas Larkin (2G | 1A) got the nod as the game’s third star.
Luke Posthumus is named the Hardest Working Raider with Alex Boileau a close second.
Nepean finishes their busy January schedule as they travel to the Rockland Arena – Pad 1 to take on the Rockland Nationals who are currently holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot on Friday evening for a 7:30pm puck drop.
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