by Romano Di Franco
The Nepean Raiders finished the back-end of a home-and-home series with the Rockland Nationals at the Steve Yzerman Arena with a Sunday matinee meeting.
The Raiders opened the scoring with just under two minutes gone in the first when Alex Bergeron found the back of net after a turn-over in the Nats zone. Louis Chabot and Rylan Iwachniuk had the helpers. Rockland evened the score after Kyle Leonard tallied his second goal of the pre-season. Both teams had their chances in the remainder of the first including a Louis Chabot near-missed. The period ended with the score knotted at 1-1.
Evan Martin was scheduled to play the first half of the game in goal and turned away 14 of the 15 shots he faced in the first. The Raiders threw ten shots at Rockland goalie Jack McGovern.
Alex Frechette put the Nats out in front with a knuckleball backhand beating Evan Martin over the blocker side. The see-saw battle continued as Ryan Liverman deflected a Sam Beaulne shot from the near-side faceoff dot. Tyler Melvin got the other assist on a play where the Raiders would not let Rockland clear the zone.
Nick White buried a rebound in a mad scramble in front of Martin to restore the lead for the Nationals.
Connor Shibley took the baton from Martin at the 10:07 mark of the second period to get in some final pre-season reps. Martin would end his time between the pipes having stopped 21 of 24 shots faced.
Tyler Melvin found Costa Touliopoulos in behind the Nats defense and delivered a nifty pass to Touliopoulos who beat McGovern with a dandy move of his own. Coleman Bennet picked up the second assist to pull the Raiders even in the last minute of the frame. The period ended with a bit of pushing and shoving and after 40 minutes the score was 3-3 despite the Raiders being outshot 30-17.
The Nations started the third period on the powerplay and had their chances. The biggest threat came on a breakaway Shibley calmly turned aside. Shortly after the penalty expired, Dylan Blue blasted a shot from the blue line over the right shoulder of a screened Shibley to put Rockland up 4-3.
The Raiders pulled Shibley for the extra attacker but got burned when Gabriel Fillion scored the empty net, insurance goal to ice it for the Nationals. Shibley finished his stint in goal with a .933 save percentage stopping 14 of 15 shots he faced.
Rockland snagged the first two stars of the game with forward Alexandre Fréchette named the first star of the game with a goal and an assist and Kyle Leonard got the nod as second star with a goal and assist of his own. With a pair of assists Tyler Melvin grabbed the third star.
The hardest working Raider honour goes to Costa Touliopoulos
The Nepean Raiders next game will be September 25 when they visit the Jim Durrell Sports Complex to take on the Ottawa Junior Senators which will be their first regular season game.