by Romano Di Franco
NEPEAN, ON – The Nepean Raiders hosted the Smiths Falls Bears at the Nepean Sportsplex – Steve Yzerman Arena in their third-last game of the season.
The high-octane Bears offense leads the league in goals with 217 and possess the league’s scoring leader Sean James (38G | 39A).
Will McEvoy (26-9-1-1, 2.92 GAA, 0.911 SV%) was in goal for Smiths Falls while Luca Sandu (6-19-1, 5.13 GAA, 0.879 SV%) got the start between the pipes for Nepean.
Riley Thompson opened the scoring with his 30th of the season pouncing on a rebound from a Sandu save after a Sean James attempt.
Luca Ricciardi got that one back after a great forecheck by Jack Matsukubo forced a turnover in front of the Bears’ goal. Ricciardi beat McEvoy just inside the far post blocker side to tie the score at 1-1.
Alec Hamady restored the Bears’ lead with under five minutes left in the period poking home a rebound after a Julien Wasmer shot from the point was deflected in front on the net by Conor Ronayne. Sandu thought he had made the second save but the puck was loose in the Raiders crease for Hamady to pick up his tenth of the season.
The first 20 minutes saw the visitors ahead despite Nepean outshooting Smiths Falls 18-11.
Riley Thompson made it 3-1 roofing a shot from the left faceoff circle short side over the blocker of Sandu. Some terrific tic-tac-toe passing on behalf of the Bears lead to Conor Ronayne’s 23rd of the season when he was all alone in the slot and beat Sandu high over the glove side.
Thompson completed the hat trick firing a Sean James pass beating Sandu to the near post to make it 5-1 Smiths Falls. That goal chased Sandu who was relieved by Joshua Branton.
After 40 minutes the Bears held a commanding 6-0 lead although Nepean once again had the edge in shots at 16-10..
Sean James added a short-handed goal with Hunter Brown in the box for Tripping and Shaymus Stevenson added an unassisted goal to make it a 7-1 final for Smiths Falls despite Nepean outshooting the Bears 38-37.
Riley Thompson (3G | 1A) was named the game’s first star Sean James (1G | 2A) nabbed the second star while Alec Hamady (1G | 1A) captured third star honours.
Luca Ricciardi (1G) was named Hardest Working Raider.
Nepean visit the Ma-Te-Way Activity Center in Renfrew in their final road game of the season on Friday for a 7:30 pm puck drop before closing out the season with their final home game at the Nepean Sportsplex – Steve Yzerman Arena with a match against the Hawkesbury Hawks.
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