by Romano Di Franco
NEPEAN, ON – The Nepean Raiders took to the ice again after a one-week hiatus as they hosted the Brockville Braves in a Sunday matinee affair at the Nepean Sportsplex Steve Yzerman Arena. It was the Raiders’ fourteenth game of the season and comes off the announcement in which Luka Benoit was named Rookie of the Month for October.
Nepean faced off against the first place Ottawa Junior Senators in their last game and this week they face the fourth place Braves. Brockville came into the game with a record of 4-1 in their last five games. The Raiders are 2-3 in their last five games.
Philip Rondina (3-2, 2.27 GAA, 0.931 SV%) was in goal for the Braves while Gage Stewart (1-6, 3.18 GAA, 0.911 SV %) got the start between the pipes for Nepean.
The Raiders are on a streak of three consecutive games scoring first and they made it four in a row. This time around it Brayden Potvin that opened the scoring. The goal was setup after some outstanding forechecking by Luke Posthumus in the Braves zone. He stole the puck from Andrew Throndson and dished to Potvin who swept around the Brockville defense and lifted a wristshot high over the glove of Rondina. Owen Hardy picked up his second assist of the season.
The two teams traded chances but it would be the Raiders that carried the 1-0 lead into the first period intermission despite being outshot 15-8 in the first 20 minutes. The period ended with some pushing and shoving that saw Wade Bolton booked for Roughing while Brockville had Aidan Yarde and Colin Elliott also sent off for Roughing. The penalties nullified a Braves PowerPlay after Nolan Mozer was was given a pair of penalties (Cross Checking and Unsportsmanlike Conduct).
The first minute of the second period saw the Raiders go on the PowerPlay after a Kyle Powers Tripping penalty. They would capitalize as Luke Posthumus collected his fourth goal of the season tipping home a Nicholas Larkin blast from the point. Tyler Melvin picked up his seventh assist of the season on the play.
The 2-0 Nepean lead would not survive the second period after goals by Luke Tchor and Colin Elliott. Tchor’s goal came on the PowerPlay while Elliott’s even-strength goal came on a huge rebound after a Stewart kick-save.
After 40 minutes of play the score was squared at 2-2. The Raiders had some opportunities in the period but Brockville had a ton of chances as they pelted Stewart with 20 shots in the middle frame.
Luke Tchor gave Brockville their first lead of the game after the Braves won a faceoff to Stewart’s left. He stepped into the slot and beat Stewart over the blocker to make it 3-2 Brockville.
The visitors extended their lead after Tchor’s took the puck up the right-side boards to the net and jammed home the puck in the crease. Stewart thought he had smothered it and Raiders head-coach appealed for goaltender interference call but the goal would stand. The fourth unanswered goal would give the Braves a 4-2 lead.
Nepean’s best chances in the third came with Matt Harvey in the box for Hooking. The Raiders threw the kitchen sink at Rondina but he turned aside everything. Jack Matsukubo had a good opportunity to close the gap but was denied by the Brockville netminder.
Owen Hardy was robbed with about three minutes left in the period and then newly acquired Curtiss Sturgeon pulled the Raiders to within one as he blasted a shot from the top of the faceoff circle. Luka Benoit and Tyler Melvin had the helpers.
The Raiders pulled Stewart for the extra attacker but it would be Thomas Haynes icing the game with a 180-foot empty net goal.
Luke Tchor (3G | 1A) was named the game’s first star. Lucas Culhane (2A) was the second star. Brayden Potvin (1G) got the nod as the game’s third star.
Curtiss Sturgeon is named the Hardest Working Raider after picking up his first goal in a Raider Jersey Nepean. Honorable mention to Gage Stewart who posted a 0.902 save percentage in the loss.
Nepean is in action again in five days time as they visit the Smiths Falls Memorial Centre to take on the Smiths Falls Bears on Friday night with a 7:30 pm puck drop.
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