by Romano Di Franco
OTTAWA, ON – The Nepean Raiders took on their cross-town rivals the Ottawa Junior Senators at the Fred Barrett Arena on Saturday night. It was the front-half of a home-and-home series that concludes Sunday afternoon.
It was second of five meetings between the two teams with Ottawa coming away with a of 2-1 win in their previous matchup back on October 30. OJS has been red-hot coming into the game on a 12-game winning streak including a 4-2 win over the Carleton Place Canadians three days earlier. Nepean is coming off a 3-2 loss to the Hawkesbury Hawks last Sunday.
Gage Stewart (1-10, 3.37 GAA, 0.908 SV%) was in goal for Nepean while Rorke Applebee (11-2-2-1, 2.00 GAA, 0.939 SV%) got the start between the pipes for Ottawa.
Zachary Losier opened the scoring for Ottawa. It was the 16th time in 30 games that OJS has scored first. His shot from the top of the left face-off circle through traffic beat Stewart over the glove. Ottawa made it 2-0 on Wil Murphy’s 6th of the season. Murphy’s point-shot some how got through a bunch of bodies in front of the net.
Luke Posthumus, who sits in second spot in Rookie scoring got one back for Nepean out-muscling the two OJS defenseman as he took the puck into the slot and slid one by Applebee.
The first 20 minutes saw the Junior Senators maintain a 2-1 lead outshooting Nepean 17-6 in the process.
The teams traded goals in the second period with Nicolas Papineua beating Stewart on a one-timer from Liam Lucas that extended the lead for Ottawa.
Nepean turned a 2-on-1 into a 3-on-1 with Owen Hardy scoring after some dandy pucky movement by Luka Benoit and Luke Posthumus. The goal closed the gap to 3-2. It was Hardy’s first goal against his old team and fifth on the season.
After 40 minutes it was a tight game with just one goal separating the teams. Ottawa dominated the shot count in the period 15-6 but Gage Stewart continued his fine play to keep Nepean in the game making 29 saves on 32 shots so far in the game.
Anton Sorensen gave Ottawa their third 2-goal lead of the game one-timing a behind-the-net pass from point-blank range past Stewart.
The scrappy Raiders just kept on coming and this time is was Jack Matsukubo johnny-on-the-spot to pot home a turnover in the Junior Senators zone. Luka Benoit picked up his second assist of the game.
Things got interesting with just under two minutes to go in the game when Nepean went on the PowerPlay after Mickael Hebert was booked for High Sticking. Nepean pulled Stewart for the extra attacker giving them a 6-on-4 advantage.
It was all Nepean in the final two minutes but they came up just shy dropping a 4-3 decision to Ottawa.
Anton Sorensen (1G | 2A) was named the game’s first star. Nicolas Papineau (1G) nabbed the second star and Luke Posthumus (1G | 1A) captured third star honours.
Luka Benoit is named the Hardest Working Raider with a pair of assists.
Nepean has a rematch with the Junior Senators as they play their final game of the 2022 calendar year back at the Nepean Sportsplex – Steve Yzerman Arena for a Sunday matinee with a 2:30 pm puck drop.
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