by Romano Di Franco
SMITHS FALLS, ON – The Nepean Raiders visited the Smiths Falls Memorial Centre to take on the only team they had yet to face the season, namely the Smiths Falls Bears. The Bears are in first place in the Robinson Division and have been playing lights-out hockey recently as they are on a four-game win streak. The Raiders are 1-4 in their last 5 games.
Luca Sandu (2-2, 4.03 GAA, 0.908 SV%) was in goal for Nepean while Will McEvoy (8-3, 3.41 GAA, 0.894 SV %) got the start between the pipes for Smiths Falls.
The Raiders had a streak of four consecutive games in which they scored first but that streak was snapped in this game after Matthew Dimaline’s shot from the right slot barely found the inside part of the post and bounced into the Nepean goal to put the Bears up 1-0.
Nepean responded when Luca Ricciardi picked up his second goal of the season. Jack Matsukubo pulled a spinnerama at the left faceoff circle and directed the puck at the net that Luca Ricciardi banked home. Anthony Rivard had the other helper.
Luke Posthumus got his fifth of the season to put the Raiders out in front 2-1. The goal came after Luca Ricciardi caused a turnover in the neutral zone that bounced to Coleman Bennett. Bennett found an open Ricciardi who carried the puck in 2-on-2 and passed to Posthumus whose shot hit the post but had enough to beat McEvoy.
After 20 minutes, the Bears had more chances than Nepean as they outshot the Raiders 18-10 but it was the visitors who had the lead where it mattered most.
Luca Sandu was solid in the second period having to make huge saves but Garrett Joss solved Sandu taking a pass from Trevor Faucher and finding himself all alone in front of Sandu. He tucked a wristshot just under the glove of the Raiders netminder to tie the game at 2-2.
Tyler Melvin answered the call just 85 seconds later to restore the Raiders lead this time to 3-2. The goal came on a delayed penalty call to the Bears. Melvin’s seeing-eye shot found its way through a bunch of bodies in front of the net and McEvoy never saw the shot until he was digging it out from the back of the net.
The game would be tied again on a controverial goal. Sandu had two Smiths Falls players, Riley Thompson and Owen Watson, draped on top of him before the red light came on. Thompson got credit for the goal despite entering the net before the puck did. The goal came on the PowerPlay with Jackson Barnes in the box for Boarding.
After 40 minutes of play the score was knotted at 3-3. The Bears had the edge in shots at 17-12 to give them an overall lead of 35-22.
The see-saw game had the Raiders taking their third lead of the game after Luca Ricciardi’s shot missed the net but took a fortunate bounce right to Joshua Reid who tucked a back-hand past McEvoy. it was Reid’s sixth goal of the season. Coleman Bennett had the other assist. The Bears were furious after thinking that Bennett had taken the puck out of the offensive zone but the linesman was well-placed and waived off any offside call.
It was another short-lived lead however as Thomas Gangl replied for the Bears just 37 seconds later to tie the game at 4-4.
The Bears struck again with just 44 seconds left in the game. It was Sean James who put the Bears ahead 5-4 just 4 seconds after ringing a shot off the post.
The Raiders pulled Sandu for the extra attacker and got a face-off in the offensive zone with just 3.2 seconds left on the clock. The Bears fell on the puck on the ensuing faceoff in an attempt to kill the clock. That led to some pushing and shoving that saw Jack Matsukubu and Ty Campbell ejected with just 0.2 seconds left in the game. The final shots were 50-30 in favor of Smiths Falls. Overall another solid effort by Nepean against one of the league’s top teams.
Sean James (1G | 2A) was named the game’s first star. Luca Ricciardi (1G | 2A) was the second star. Owen Watson (2A) got the nod as the game’s third star.
Joshua Reid (1G | 1A) is named the Hardest Working Raider.
Nepean is in action again in two days time as they visit they host the Carleton Place Canadians at the Nepean Sportsplex Steve Yzerman Arena for a 2:30 pm puck drop.
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