RAPIDS’ WEEKLY REPORT – December 14
It was a short week for the Rapids who played only one game over the weekend as Saturday night’s expected matchup against the Fredericton Red Wings was postponed due to bad weather conditions.
The Northwestern rivalry was renewed on Friday night in Edmundston where the Rapids were trying to end a two-game losing skid against the Blizzard. This time around, Nick Tremere’s squad played a much better game overall against their rivals, playing a tight game while avoiding turnovers and the penalty box at all costs. We can call it a defensive struggle as both teams could only manage three goals in total. The Rapids were ahead 1-0 going into the final frame, but the Blizzard stormed into the third period with the intent to control play in Rapids’ territory and outskating their opponents. Shots on goal were only 10 to 9 for the Blizzard in the third, but it seemed as though Edmundston was the better team in many areas, including puck possession.
We have to applaud the effort however even though the Rapids deserved a much better fate than returning home without picking up at least 1 point in the standings. Even though the offense has been very quiet lately, scoring only 4 goals in its last three contests, the team has played better defensively while still getting superb goaltending. Leading 1-0 on the road through forty minutes of play against the second-best team in the division is quite an accomplishment for a Rapids’ squad who had allowed a total of 14 goals in its last two previous meetings against the Blizzard.
There are still some issues surrounding the power play unit as Grand Falls has scored only once in its last 12 PP opportunities. Both teams were well disciplined on Friday night as only one minor penalty on each side was called, which was one factor why it was so difficult to get any momentum going offensively.
The bad news is that the Rapids have not been able to gain any ground in the standings on both Fredericton and Campbellton. In fact, they have lost a bunch of ground: what was a 3-point deficit from 4th spot in the Eastlink North division a couple of weeks ago has now become a 9-point deficit as the Fredericton Red Wings and Campbellton Tigers have now joined the Blizzard in a three-way tie for second place.
The Rapids will get the opportunity to cut the margin once again as they host the Red Wings on Wednesday night before playing Miramichi at home on Friday and Summerside on the road the following day. Three games in four days are a tough command, but it could also be a game-changer for the Rapids if they can manage to increase their point total before the holiday break.
*The week ended with a couple of trades for the Rapids. On Friday, the team announced the trade involving forward Evan Jackson who was dealt to the South Shore Lumberjacks in return for a 5th round draft pick in 2023.
Jackson played four seasons with the Rapids, scoring 11 goals and picking up 13 assists for a total of 24 points.
The Rapids also traded for a defenseman on Friday, acquiring Zachary Smith from the Truro Bearcats in exchange for a 5th round pick in the 2022 draft.
Born in Pembroke, Massachusetts, Smith played in 22 games this season for the Bearcats in his MHL rookie season, compiling a record of 1 goal and 4 assists while being penalized for a total of only 4 minutes.
Smith was to join the Rapids for Saturday’s contest against the Fredericton Red Wings.
*Dominic Leblanc continues to lead the team in scoring with 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points. He also leads the Rapids in power play points (1g 5a) and winning goals (4).
Yannic Bastarache is the team’s second leading scorer with a production of 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points. Bastarache has 4 PP points (1g 3a).
Defenseman Zac Arsenault is third on the list with 6 goals and 10 assists for 16 points. He also has 4 points with the man advantage (1g 3a).
*The Rapids are 5th in their division in power play efficiency at 18.6%. They are ranked 4th in the league in penalty kill at 82.5% and 2nd in penalties with 533 minutes.
*The Rapids’ record on the road this season is 3 wins and 9 losses for 6 points. At home, Grand Falls has a record of 6 wins, 4 losses and 1 overtime defeat for a total of 13 points.
Grand Falls has scored 29 goals on the road and has allowed 50. On home ice, the team has scored 45 times while allowing 49 goals to their opponents.
*Gio DiMattia ranks 11th in the league in save percentage at .894. DiMattia’s won/loss record this season is 9 wins and 10 losses. His goals against average stands at a respectable 3.82 in 1132 minutes played between the pipes.