by Romano Di Franco
NEPEAN, ON – The Nepean Raiders hosted the Smiths Falls Bears in a Sunday matinee game at the Nepean Sportsplex – Steve Yzerman Arena. It was the second meeting of the season between the two teams. Despite Smiths Falls sitting on top of the Robinson Division and Nepean sitting at the bottom of the Yzerman Division, the two teams matched up very well. It took a last minute goal by Sean James to give Smiths Falls a victory in their previous meeting.
Dawson Labre (4-2, 2.74 GAA, 0.926 SV%) was in goal for Smiths Falls while Luca Sandu (2-4, 4.46 GAA, 0.896 SV%) got the start between the pipes for Nepean.
The first period was scoreless until the 17:17 mark when Riley Thompson tipped home a pass from Owen Watson to give Smiths Falls a 1-0 lead. It was a PowerPlay goal that came with Wade Bolton in the box for Slashing. Nepean had their fair share of chances including a breakaway by Luka Benoit who was sprung free on a terrific bounce pass by Jackson Barnes. Jack Matsukubo set up Jordan Graham on another breakaway but he was tied up and could muster just a soft shot on Labre. Harris Hilfiker took the puck and went coast-to-coast before a give-and-go with Luke Posthumus resulted in a shot that Labre had to be sharp on.
After 20 minutes, Smiths Falls had a 1-0 lead as well as the advantage in shots at 13-8.
Nepean got out of the gates early in the middle frame taking advantage of a Ty Campbell Roughing penalty. It was the captain Coleman Bennett getting the equalizer. It was his second of the season and it came on a one-timer from the point on a pass from Jack Matsukubo. Luke Posthumus had the other helper.
Josh Reid would give Nepean their first lead of the game as he pounced on a rebound that Owen Hardy threw at the net. Tyler Melvin got the play started with a dandy move before dishing to Hardy.
As the two teams headed to the dressing room for the second intermission, it was Nepean who had jumped out in front by a score of 2-1 outshooting the visitors 14-8 in the process.
The Raiders continued to go full throttle in the third period peppering Labre with quality shots. Owen Hardy got the insurance goal with three minutes to go in the game after Joshua Reid won a faceoff to the left of Labre sending the puck back to Melvin who would put on a puck-moving clinic before finding Hardy in the high slot for a blast that beat Labre cleanly.
Jack Matsukubo would add an empty-netter to seal the deal with Jordan Graham picking up the lone assist making the final 4-1 Nepean.
Coleman Bennett (1G | 1A) was named the game’s first star. Jack Matsukubo (1G | 1A) nabbed the second star and Riley Thompson (1G) captured third star honours.
Luca Sandu (29 saves on 30 shots) is named the Hardest Working Raider picking up his third win of the season. His performance knocked 22 points off his GAA and improved his SV% to 0.899.
Nepean will be back in action on Friday as they head to the Rockland Arena – Pad 1 to take on the Rockland Nationals for a 7:30 pm puck drop.
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