It was a tough two game-stretch for the Rapids last weekend as they came up short on both occasions.
Friday night’s defeat was a bitter pill to swallow due to the fact that the team was playing the 6th place team in its division and with hopes of gaining ground on the Miramichi Timberwolves who hold that coveted 4th spot. Things started out well for Grand Falls as they jumped to an early 2-0 lead, but the hometown Fredericton Red Wings stormed back with six unanswered goals to claim a 6-2 victory.
Fredericton’s late second period goal, scored with only 23 seconds remaining on the clock, was a key factor in the game as it broke a 2-2 tie.
Josh Russell and Jonathan Cormier both scored for the Rapids in the opening frame.
Then on Sunday night at the E.&P. Sénéchal Centre, the Rapids competed well against a strong Summerside team who was determined to leave the North-West region with a winning record over the weekend. Trailing 1-0 after two periods of play, the Rapids scored two quick goals to open up the third before a power play goal by the Western Capitals tied things up at the 7-minute mark. Summerside scored the winning goal at 10:41, the only one scored at equal strength among both teams.
Special teams played a huge part in the game as both squads scored twice with the man advantage.
One positive element about Sunday night’s game was the shots on goal allowed: 26 in total. The Rapids allowed 9 shots to the Western Capitals in the first period, 8 in the second and 9 in the third.
That was a big difference from Friday night’s game in Fredericton when Grand Falls allowed 45 shots to their opponents.
The Rapids still have two games in hand on Miramichi with 6 points separating both teams from 4th position in the Eastlink North division standings. This means that Wednesday night’s matchup between these two teams will once again be crucial. Game time is at 7:30 pm at the E.&P. Sénéchal Centre.
The Rapids will then travel to PEI on Saturday to play the Western Capitals once again. Then on Sunday, they finish the weekend with a 7:00 pm game against the Tigers in Campbellton.
It will be a tough stretch for the team in the upcoming weeks. Starting on February 1st, the Rapids will play 7 games in 12 days including four straight contests on the road. It will be crucial to add points to the standings, especially since they have three more games against the Timberwolves before the end of the regular season.
*The Rapids have now dropped to 16 wins and 18 losses on the season for a total of 32 points. Grand Falls has a record of 8 wins and 9 losses on the road, which is the same record they have on home ice.
The Edmundston Blizzard hold top spot in the Eastlink North division with 49 points, which is only 2 points better than the Summerside Western Capitals and Campbellton Tigers.
*In the Eastlink South, the Yarmouth Mariners now hold a 13-point lead on the Truro Bearcats for top spot. Teams that follow in order in the standings: Valley, Pictou County, Amherst and South Shore.
*Yannic Bastarache continues to lead the Rapids in scoring with a record of 22 goals and 28 assists for 50 points, which ranks him 10th in the MHL scoring race this week.
Ben Diamond is second in team scoring with 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points while Dominic LeBlanc is third with 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points.
Mathis Huot is not far behind with 28 points to his credit (9g 19a) and defenseman Evan Bellamy comes in at fifth on the list with 4 goals and 22 assists for 26 points.
*The Rapids have scored 35 power play goals on the season, which is tied for the 7th best mark in the league. Grand Falls has scored 5 shorthanded goals which is tied for second in the league.
Take note that the Rapids’ penalty kill stands at 74.3%, which is the third best mark in the Eastlink North division.
*Next games on the schedule:
Wednesday February 1: Miramichi at Rapids (7:30 pm at the CEPS)
Saturday February 4: Rapids at Summerside (7:00 pm)
Sunday February 5: Rapids at Campbellton (7:00 pm)