GRAND FALLS – Dominic Leblanc scored at 2:19 of the overtime period, giving the Grand Falls Rapids a 4-3 come from behind victory on Friday night over the visiting Edmundston Blizzard.

Trailing 3-1 entering the third period, the Rapids never backed down, playing with urgency and great energy on the ice while outshooting their opponents 20 to 6. It was most arguably their best performance of the season in all facets of the game.

Leblanc scored the game winner on a wrist shot to the stick side of Edmundston netminder Raphael Audet, ending the Rapids 5-game losing streak and earning a precious 2 points in the Eastlink North division standings.

Despite playing with three offensive lines due to injuries to key offensive players, Nick Tremere’s squad finished the game with an advantage of 35 to 27 in shots on goal, dominating their opponents in that department for the first time this season.

The Rapids got on to a great start in the third period and it appeared early on as though the Blizzard’s lead was far from safe. Yannic Bastarache cut the deficit to 3-2 at 7:57, beating the Edmundston netminder with a shot to the far side of the post. Jeremy Gagnon tied the score with less than 3 minutes remaining in regulation time (17:12) after taking a rebound in front of the net on the initial shot from linemate Max Chisholm. It was Gagnon’s first goal of the season.

The first twenty minutes of play ended in a 1-1 tie. It took more than 16 minutes of play before the first goal was scored. After the Blizzard turned over the puck in their own end, Keegan Hunt sent a slap shot from the blue line that found the back of the net, giving the Rapids a 1-0 lead. It was Hunt’s first tally of the season, coming at 16:54.

However, momentum could not be maintained as Grand Falls fell into penalty trouble only seconds following the go-ahead goal, giving the Blizzard a 5 on 3 advantage late in the frame. Alex Savoie took advantage of a rebound in front of net, tying the game 1-1 on a power play goal at 18:23.

The Blizzard took a two-goal lead with two breakaway goals in the middle frame. Mitch McLeod broke the tie at 4:30 after splitting through the defense, beating DiMattia with a perfect wrist shot. Then at 15:18, Peter Amanatidis found himself alone at center ice and didn’t miss the opportunity to give his team a two-goal cushion.

The Rapids played a solid period on all facets of the game, staying out of the penalty box and getting some good opportunities on the power play. However, Edmundston was the most opportunistic team, scoring twice on only 6 shots on net.

Grand Falls, who had no intention of repeating the same scenario that happened in the third period the last time these two teams met, dominated from then on and was awarded by scoring three unanswered goals, including Dominic Leblanc’s game winner in overtime. The win also snapped Edmundston’s 3-game winning streak.

The Rapids return to home ice on Sunday afternoon as they will host the Campbellton Tigers for a 3pm start at the E.&P. Sénéchal Centre. It will be the first time that these two teams will clash during the regular season.

Patrick Thibault



*The Rapids record this season now stands at 3 wins and 6 losses for 6 points. It was also their second win this season on home ice.

*Jérémie Gagnon was the Rapids’ leading scorer with 1 goal and 1 assist. Mitchell McLeod also finished the game with 1g and 1a for Edmundston.

*Defenseman James Rogers was playing his first game for the Rapids while Nicholas Heinzle, acquired during the week by Grand Falls, was Gio DiMattia’s substitute on Friday night.

*Three stars of the game: 1- Dominic Leblanc (GFR); 2- Mitchell McLeod (EDM); 3- Jérémie Gagnon (GFR)

*Game attendance: 644 spectators