It was a busy week for the Rapids who played four games, including three in a row over the weekend.
On Tuesday (February 28th), the Rapids put an end to a 6-game losing streak by defeating the Fredericton Red Wings by a score of 4-1 on home ice. After Fredericton took a 1-0 lead in the first period, Greg Leland’s squad responded with four unanswered goals to earn the victory.
The Rapids also handled the Red Wings last Saturday night in Fredericton by an impressive score of 9-3. It was the most goals scored in a game by the team this season as four different players found the back of the net on two occasions: Josh Russell, Ethan Johnson, Dominic Deschênes and Dominic LeBlanc.
As for the two other contests on the schedule, the Rapids were outscored 21 to 7 as they lost on Friday night to the Miramichi Timberwolves (12-3) and to the Campbellton Tigers on Sunday (9-4).
The effort was there, but too many shots on goal were allowed, including many rebounds in front of the net.
The Rapids have four games remaining on the schedule starting on Wednesday night against the Truro Bearcats at the E.&P. Sénéchal Centre. Then Grand Falls hits the road for two games: Friday night in Edmundston and Saturday night in Miramichi, before closing out the season at home against the Amherst Ramblers on Monday night.
Take note that the Rapids need only 1 more victory to reach the 20-win plateau this season, and this despite standing last in the Eastlink North division standings. It is however the most victories picked up by the franchise since its arrival in Grand Falls during the 2018-2019 season.
The Rapids are currently 3 points back of Fredericton for 5th spot. Even though both teams are out of the playoff picture, finishing the season on a high note would most certainly be well received, not only by the organization but for fans alike.
It is without question that Evan Bellamy’s absence from the blue line hurt the Rapids lately. Bellamy should return to the lineup on Wednesday against Truro. A natural for moving the puck out of his own end, Bellamy will also be a big boost to the power play unit as he scored 3 of his 5 goals this season with the man advantage. His record stands at 5 goals and 28 assists for 33 points in 42 games played.
Fans are encouraged to cheer for these players who have been trying very hard lately to compete at the highest level. We have to admire their intensity and the great performance offered by the offensive unit since the last few contests.
It’s never easy to end a season without reaching the ultimate goal… and it will certainly be hard to see some players suit up for the last time in a Rapids’ uniform. It will be your chance to cheer on those who won’t be eligible to return to junior A next season.
*The Rapids have a record of 10-13-1 on the road this season for 21 points, compared to 9 wins and 15 losses on home ice for 18 points.
*The Rapids power play is still a force as they are 3rd in the league in PP efficiency at 28.2%. Ben Diamond leads the team with 14 power play goals, followed by Yannic Bastarache with 12 and Dominic LeBlanc with 9.
Shorthanded goals have also been a strong point for the team this season. The Rapids have scored 7 times in such situations this season, which ranks 3rd in the league with the Edmundston Blizzard.
Ben Diamond leads the way for Grand Falls with 3 SH goals, followed by Dominic LeBlanc with 2.
*As for the individual stats, Yannic Bastarache has jumped from one spot to 11th in the MHL scoring race with a record of 25 goals and 42 assists for 67 points.
Ben Diamond is second in team scoring with 29 goals and 31 assists for 60 points.
Dominic LeBlanc is third with 27 goals and 22 assists for 49 points, followed by Mathis Huot with 11 goals and 27 assists for 38 points.
*The Edmundston Blizzard are very close to wrapping up the title in the Eastlink North division as they hold a 7-point lead over the Summerside Western Capitals. Edmundston has won its last 12 games on the schedule.
There is a good battle going on for third spot as the Campbellton Tigers hold a 2-point lead on the Miramichi Timberwolves as both teams have two other games remaining to their schedule.
*In the Eastlink South, the Yarmouth Mariners have reached the 80-point plateau, the first MHL team to do so this season. The Mariners have clinched the title while Truro, Valley and Pictou County follow in the standings. Amherst and South Shore are the two teams in the division who have been eliminated from the playoffs.
*Next games on the schedule:
Wednesday March 8th: Truro at Rapids (7:30 pm at the CEPS)
Friday March 10th: Rapids at Edmundston (7:30 pm)
Saturday March 11th: Rapids at Miramichi (7:00 pm)
Monday March 13th: Amherst vs Rapids (7:30 at the CEPS)