GRAND FALLS — Despite coming back from a three goal deficit with a strong performance in the last forty minutes of play, the Rapids were defeated 5-3 on Friday night before a crowd of more than 1000 spectators assembled at the Grand Falls E.&P. Senechal Center.
After trailing 3-0 in the opening frame, Sandy MacCarthy’s squad was able to reduce the margin to one goal but they had to face a real wall in front of the opposing net as Timberwolves’ goalie Tanner Somers blocked 19 of the 20 shots he faced in the final period.
Somers finished the contest with a remarkable 44 save performance, closing the door when it mattered most.
The game didn’t start well for the Rapids as they saw the Timberwolves score three unanswered goals in the first twenty minutes of play.
James Walker opened the scoring for the visitors on a power play at 5:31 after his shot found the back of the net through dense traffic. Matthew Briggs beat Rapids’ goalie Nolan Boyd with a tip-in at 15:00 and added a second goal with less than a minute to play in the period, only moments after Tanner Somers made a spectacular save at the other end.
Even though they were dominated on quite a few facets of the game in the opening period, the Rapids were able to finish their plays much better and show lots more intensity in the second frame, especially during the first minutes of play of the period.
Ronan Rheaume was finally the first one to beat Somers at 2:54 with a perfect shot while standing close to the net. Then at the 9th minute of play, Chris Melendez lifted the crowd when his one-timer reduced the margin to only one goal. Defenseman Kyle Anderson served a perfect pass on Melendez’ tally which brought the score to 3-2.
Despite the shots on goal being 12 on each side in the period, the Rapids had great scoring opportunities but they just couldn’t cash in to tie the score.
Grand Falls came out strong again in the third period, shooting numerous times in direction of the Timberwolves’ goaltender but they just couldn’t get the puck through. The Rapids also found themselves on the power play a few times but then again, Somers and his defensive unit stood tall.
With less than 6 minutes to play, Jason Gallant scored the Timberwolves fourth goal after accepting a perfect pass in front of the net on a two on one break.
Miramichi added a fifth goal in an empty net at 18:05 (Eric Pelletier) after the Rapids took out their goalie for a sixth attacker.
The Rapids’ third goal was scored by Dawson Wood at 18:39, going top shelf on Somers, his only blemish of the period.
Matthew Briggs was the top scorer for the Timberwolves with a 2 goal and 1 assist performance.
Antoni Matte leaded the Grand Falls offence by picking up 2 points with his two assists.
The Rapids outshot their opponents 47-29 in the game.
The Rapids, who now have 3 wins and 2 losses to their credit to open the season, will play their next game on Saturday night as they travel to Edmundston to face the Blizzard at 7:30pm.
Source: Patrick Thibault (Grand Falls Rapids)
MIR.- James Walker (Elijah Francis; Matthew Briggs) 5:31 (PP)
MIR.- Matthew Briggs (Johnny Foley) 15:00
MIR.- Matthew Briggs (Kennedy Gallant) 19:21
GFR- Ronan Rheaume (Jarrod Isley; Antoni Matte) 2:54
GFR- Chris Melendez (Kyle Anderson; Mackenzie Mindus) 9:31
MIR.- Jason Gallant (Johnny Foley; Chris Murphy) 14:04
MIR.- Eric Pelletier (sans aide) 18:05 (empty net)
GFR- Dawson Wood (Antoni Matte) 18:39
First star: Tanner Somers (Timberwolves)
Second star: Matthew Briggs (Timberwolves)
Third star: Chris Melendez (Rapides)