The Rapids played only one game last weekend, dropping a 6-3 decision on the road to the West Kent Steamers.
It was already the fifth meeting between those two squads and a 4th win for West Kent.
The loss leaves the Rapids with 14 points and in last spot in the Eastlink North division standings. The late surge by the Fredericton Red Wings, winners of 3 games in a row, has not helped Grand Falls as the team now finds itself 5-points back of the Red Wings for that coveted 4th position in the North standings.
With the absence of captain Dominic LeBlanc and goaltender Adam Lecours, both taking part in the Eastern Canada Cup tournament this week in Trenton, Ontario, the Rapids had to figure out a way to outlast an opponent on Sunday night that was fighting for top spot in their division with an 8-2 record over their last 10 games.
The Rapids did play a competitive game until they got into penalty trouble. Those four power play goals allowed made the difference, despite a good showing by netminder Gio DiMattia who made 32 saves.
The Rapids are not the most penalized team in the league this season… not even in their own division. However, their penalty kill has dropped to a 75,7% efficiency rate, which is ranked 5th in the Eastlink North and 8th in the league. This was a strength early on this season, but it becomes too demanding on the defensive unit to hold on talented offensive teams who thrive while playing with the man advantage.
The power play efficiency has also dropped a bit… 21.7% for the Rapids on the PP, which is also ranked 5th in their division and 9th in the league.
This of course means that special teams need to get better in order for Grand Falls to regain some ground on their divisional rivals. And what better time to get back in the win column than next weekend as the Rapids play two games on home ice against both teams they are chasing for a playoff spot.
On Friday night, the Rapids host the Fredericton Red Wings at 7:00 pm at the E.&P. Sénéchal Centre while on Sunday afternoon (3 pm), the Campbellton Tigers come to town for another divisional matchup.
If there is such a thing as 4-point games, these two contests can be considered to be in that category.
TEAM NEWS AND STATS:
*The Rapids sit in 6th spot in the Eastlink North division standings with a record of 6 wins, 8 losses and 2 extra time defeats for a total of 14 points. They are 1-point behind the Campbellton Tigers and 5 points behind the Fredericton Red Wings who hold 4th spot in the standings.
*Congratulations to Dominic LeBlanc and Adam Lecours who are both representing the Eastlink North team at the Eastern Canada Cup in Trenton, Ontario.
The tournament runs from the 13th to the 15th of November and is considered one of the premier Junior A hockey events in Canada.
*Goaltender Adam Lecours was named top rookie in the MHL for the month of October. As mentioned on the MHL website:
“The 18-year-old from Sherbrooke, Quebec had a 2.56 goals against average for the month which was second among all goaltenders to Miramichi’s Jack Flanagan, who only played in two games compared to five for Lecours. He had a 4-0-0-1 record in October with 151 saves made. Lecours’ .921 save percentage was fourth-best in the league, close to Yarmouth’s Thomas Fontaine who led the way with a .925 mark”.
*Dominic LeBlanc is currently 17th among the league’s top scorers with a record of 15 goals and 6 assists for 21 points.
LeBlanc is tied for second in goals scored (15) and tied for first in power play goals (7). He is also tied for second in shorthanded goals (2) and winning goals (2).
NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE:
*The West Kent Steamers hold first spot in the Eastlink North division standings with 26 points, which is 2-points best than the Miramichi Timberwolves (24pts). The Edmundston Blizzard are third in the standings with 20pts, followed in order by the Fredericton Red Wings (19pts), the Campbellton Tigers (15pts) and the Rapids with 14pts.
In the Eastlink South division, the Summerside Western Capitals lead the way with 26 points followed by Yarmouth (21pts), Amherst (19pts), Truro (17pts), Pictou County (13pts) and Valley (6pts).
*Felix Bedard of the Edmundston Blizzard remains the top scorer in the league this week with a record of 15g and 16a for 31 points. He is followed by Carter McCluskey of the Truro Bearcats (16g and 14a for 30pts) and Alex Nadeau, also from Truro, with 9g and 21a for 30pts.
*Jack Flanagan of Miramichi is now the leader in goals-against average among goaltenders with 2.07. He is followed by Nicholas Sheehan of the Edmundston Blizzard who has an average of 2.55.
Grand Falls’ Adam Lecours is 6th on that list with a goals-against average of 2.75.
THE RAPIDS UPCOMING SCHEDULE:
*Friday November 17: Fredericton vs Rapids (7:00 pm)
*Sunday November 19: Campbellton vs Rapids (3:00 pm)