by Romano Di Franco
NEPEAN, ON – The Nepean Raiders played their first game since their successful showing at the CCHL Showcase hosting the Rockland Nationals. The Nats have a record of 5-1-1-1 and their 12 points put them in third place in teh Yzerman Division.
Ben Grahame (2-0, 2.97 GAA, 0.894 SV%) was in goal for Rockland while Gage Stewart (1-4, 3.31 GAA, 0.905 SV %) got the start between the pipes in the Raiders’ net.
The Raiders have scored first in six of their nine games but it was Rockland who drew first blood scoring a short-handed goal. Adriano Lombardo-Tullo was assessed a Tripping penalty less than 90 seconds into the game but Rockland defenseman Bradley Leonard forced a turnover in his own zone and sprung Kyle Leonard on a break-away. He sent a shot high glove-side and although Stewart getting a piece of it the puck managed to find the back of the net to put the visitors ahead 1-0.
The Nats made it 2-0 on a fortunate line-change that saw Conrad Moline come off the bench and be johnny-on-the-spot to pick up the puck and find Guillaume Labre all alone in the slot. Labra made a nifty move at the top of the crease before taking it to the right side and sliding a back-hand past a stretching Gage Stewart.
The Raiders had a couple of chances in the first period but Grahame turned aside everything thrown his way.
The period ended 2-0 in favour of Rockland despite Nepean outshooting Rockland 8-6.
There was no scoring in the second period and the best chance came on a strange looking dump-and-chase that saw Rockland netminder go behind the net only to see the puck take a bad bounce and travel through a vacated Rockland goal just out of the reach of Jordan Graham.
After 40 minutes Rockland held their lead and after peppering Stewart with 15 shots in the second they held the shot advantage 21-17.
The Nationals made it 3-0 on a 3-on-2 in which Charles Locas picked up his own rebound and took it to Stewart’s left before roofing a backhand over a sprawling Gage Stewart.
It became a 4-0 game after a combination of a delayed penalty, Jack Matsukubo stick breaking and a bad bounce off a Raider skate deflecting into the net.
The Raiders would not be shut-out and it was Luke Posthumus scoring on a give-and-go with Jack Matsukubo. Ben Grahame managed to stop most of the puck but it trickled over the goal line before Grahame could swipe at it. Coleman Bennett was credited with an assist on the Raiders’ goal.
It was a 4-1 final score for Rockland who outshot Nepean 35-24.
Adriano Lombardo-Tullo (1G | 1A) was named the game’s first star. Ben Grahame (23 saves on 24 shots) was the second star while Raiders’ defenseman Jackson Barnes was the third star.
Luke Posthumus is named the Hardest Working Raider for his third goal of the season.
Nepean will take another extended break with seven days off until they see game action again taking on the Pembroke Lumber Kings for a 7:30pm puck drop at Pembroke Memorial Centre.
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