EDMUNDSTON — In a wide open offensive duel played Friday night at the Jean-Daigle Centre in Edmundston, the Blizzard scored the game’s last four goals as they coasted to a 7-4 victory against the Grand Falls Rapids in an MHL contest played before 2826 spectators.
The Blizzard’s top line of Gabriel Vanier, Logan Johnston and Samuel Leblanc was dominant as the three players totalled 13 points in the contest. Johnston and Vanier each scored twice, as did Dallas Maurovic who tallied his second goal in an empty net with less than a minute remaining in the third frame. Pierre Bourgoin completed the scoring for Edmundston.
Jean-Simon Belanger, Matthew MacNeil, Conor MacLean and Matthew Mackay scored for the Rapids as they split their home and away series with the Blizzard to start this new campaign.
Despite the three goal differential, the Rapids were very tough opponents as they took the lead twice in the game. With less than five minutes to play in the second period, Grand Falls took a 4-3 advantage resulting from two goals scored on the power play by Conor MacLean and Matthew Mackay.
However, the Blizzard replied with two goals of their own before the end of the period, including the game winner from Gabriel Vanier at 19:42.
The Rapids, who dominated 44-29 in shots on goal in the game, led 2-1 after twenty minutes of play. After Logan Johnston gave the Blizzard the lead at 9:05, Jean-Simon Belanger tied the score with the man advantage at 15:26 with a quick slap shot that beat Edmundston goalie Francis Asselin. No more than 39 seconds later, Matthew MacNeil also took advantage of a power play by sliding a loose puck behind Asselin to put the Rapids ahead by one goal.
The Blizzard came out strong in the opening minute of the second frame, tying the score with Pierre Bourgoin’s first of the season at 55 seconds of play. Gabriel Vanier gave the home team their second lead of the game at 7:43 before the Rapids answered with two quick goals.
Six goals in total were scored in the second period with Edmundston taking a 5-4 lead after forty minutes of play.
The last twenty minutes of the game was a more defensive affair mixed with it’s share of rough play at times. The Blizzard added two more goals (Johnston and Maurovic) to bring the final score to 7-4.
For Edmundston, Logan Johnston and Gabriel Vanier each completed their night’s work with a 2g and 3a performance. Their linemate Samuel Leblanc also had a strong game offensively, picking up 3 assists.
For the Rapids, Mackenzie Mindus and captain Brendan Bornstein each had 3 assists, leading the scoring.
It was a contrast with the first game played last Sunday in Grand Falls between these two teams, won 2-1 by the Rapids. The play was much more open as demonstrated by the high number of shots on goal registered in the game (73).
During opening ceremonies, the Blizzard fans saw two banners being lifted to the rafters: one for their first place finish in the league last season and the second one for their playoff championship win.
Despite the loss, the Rapids had a strong showing offensively. They scored three times with the man advantage during the course of the game which shows that their special teams represents a strength so far this season.
The Rapids will have to wait until next weekend before playing their next contest, which will be on Saturday the 29th of September in St.Stephen against the Aces. These two same teams will meet again Sunday afternoon (the 30th), this time at the E.&P. Senechal Centre in Grand Falls starting at 3pm.
Source: Patrick Thibault (Grand Falls Rapids)
EDM- Logan Johnston (1) (Gabriel Vanier; Tristan Mercure) 9:05
GFR- Jean-Simon Belanger (1) (Nick Hodd; Brendan Bornstein) 15:26 (PP)
GFR- Matthew MacNeil (1) (Brendan Bornstein) 19:21
EDM- Pierre Bourgoin (1) (Logan Johnston; Gabriel Vanier) 0:54
EDM- Gabriel Vanier (2) (Logan Johnston; Samuel Leblanc) 7:43
GFR- Conor MacLean (2) (unassisted) 15:42 (PP)
GFR- Matthew MacKay (1) (Brendan Bornstein; Mackenzie Mindus) 17:36 (PP)
EDM- Dallas Maurovic (2) (Maxime Grandmaison) 18:31
EDM- Gabriel Vanier (3) (Logan Johnston; Samuel Leblanc) 19:42
EDM- Logan Johnston (2) (Gabriel Vanier; Samuel Leblanc) 15:27
EDM- Dallas Maurovic (3) (unassisted) 19:42 – empty net