CAMPBELLTON – Nothing seems to stop the Rapids lately, not even the team that led the Eastlink North division before Sunday afternoon’s contest at the Memorial Civic Centre in Campbellton.
It took a complete team effort and a 32-save performance by goalkeeper Joshua Fleming as the Rapids shutout the Tigers by a score of 3-0. Hunter Gartley, Ben Diamond and Dominic Leblanc scored for Grand Falls who won its 5th consecutive game and for a 9th time in its last 10 games.
The Rapids sit in 4th position in the Eastlink North division standings with a record of 11 wins and 7 losses for 22 points. They are only 3 points back of the Edmundston Blizzard who are in 3rd spot in the division.
Greg Leland’s squad played a great defensive game, blocking shots and taking control of rebounds in front of their own net while eliminating the odd man rush and playing a great forechecking game. Even though it seemed as though the Tigers controlled puck possession in the third period, they could only send 7 shots on Joshua Fleming, which shows how effective the defensive unit was able to protect their netminder.
The Rapids got the lead early on a shot that seemed to surprise Tigers’ goaltender Olivier Leclair. Hunter Gartley scored at 1:25 of the opening period, giving the visitors the lead.
Campbellton slightly outshot Grand Falls in the first period of play, 11 to 10.
Both goaltenders made some key saves in the middle frame as play opened up at times. A total of 32 shots were registered as the Rapids dominated 18 to 14.
The Rapids were the most opportunistic team, scoring their 24th power play goal of the season immediately after the Tigers came very close to tying the score. Yannic Bastarache sent a perfect pass to Ben Diamond who was alone in front of Leclair, giving Grand Falls a 2-0 lead at 16:02 of the middle frame. It was Diamond’s 11th goal of the season and his 6th power play tally.
Only one goal was scored in the third period which resulted from a breakaway. Dominic Leblanc took control of a loose puck at centre ice and went in alone, sending a back hand shot under the pads of Olivier Leclair. For Leblanc, it was a 10th goal this season.
Final shots on goal were 40 to 32 in favour of Grand Falls.
The Rapids will play their next two games in Nova Scotia as they visit the Valley Wildcats on Friday night and the Truro Bearcats on Saturday. Both games start at 7 pm.
*Hunter Gartley, with his first tally of the season in the opening period, was credited with the game winning goal.
*The Rapids were penalized for only 6 minutes while the Tigers received 10 penalty minutes.
*Game attendance: 672 spectators
*Three stars of the game: 1- Joshua Fleming (GFR) 2- Ben Diamond (GFR); 3- Olivier Leclair (CAM)
1:25 GFR Hunter Gartley (1) ASST: Jonathan Cormier (3)
16:02 GFR Ben Diamond (11) ASST: Yannic Bastarache (15), Mathis Huot (9) (PP)
14:45 GFR Dominic LeBlanc (10) ASST: Ian Dickie (3), Jack Dickie (4)