*une version française suivra …
RAPIDS’ WEEKLY REPORT – NOVEMBER 2
What a difference a week makes! This may sound cliché, but the reality is that for any sports’ team playing on a regular basis, the gap between winning and losing can be considerably reduced in a matter of time if everyone buys into the task at hand.
For the Rapids, not only were they able to defeat two top teams from their own division, but they did it by correcting some issues that were hanging very heavy over their heads since the start of the regular season: they came from behind twice in the third period, outskating and outworking their opponents. They outshot a team for the first time this season. They scored 11 goals in two games in comparison to only 2 in their previous three contests. Defensemen also joined the rush, scoring 4 of the team’s 11 goals over the weekend.
This strong showing was also done with injuries to key players such as forwards Kyle Foreman, Tommy Bouchard and Alexis Cournoyer. It was also done during a week in which veteran netminder Nolan Boyd left the team, requesting for a trade. And all this happened on the heels of a 5-game losing streak, knowing that in a very competitive division, such a performance can be detrimental to a team’s chances of making the playoffs, even though we are only getting into the November schedule.
So, through all the adversity and pressure to win at least one game this past weekend, Nick Tremere’s squad did even better, adding 4 precious points to the standings and jumping slightly ahead of the Miramichi Timberwolves into 5th spot.
Friday night’s matchup with the Blizzard was perhaps Grand Falls’ best effort yet in all facets of the game. Traling 3-1 after two periods of play, the Rapids played with tremendous energy and urgency in the third frame, outshooting their opponents 20 to 6 and tying the game with less than 3 minutes remaining in regulation time. It was a complete team effort and a satisfying one indeed for a team who was in search of a confidence booster.
Sunday afternoon’s contest had the most improbable of scenarios happen from the very first puck drop. Ahead by 4 goals with less than 5 minutes gone off the clock in the opening period, the Rapids had a déja vu episode as the lead vanished in a matter of a few minutes. Campbellton came back to tie the score before the end of the frame and added two more goals in the second period, scoring 6 unanswered goals. It was the second time this season that Grand Falls could not hold on to a 4-goal lead. It seemed that the fate that happened to them in Edmundston back on October 16 was to repeat itself. But the Rapids showed some character, coming into the third period with great detemination and a plan; a plan to put an end to the image they were creating themselves as a team not capable of playing the full 60 minutes for two games in a row. They scored twice in a span of 50 seconds early on and Jonathan Cormier, a defenseman, scored the game winner at the 11-minute mark.
Now that they know they can hang around with the big boys of their division and play a full 60 minutes, anything is now possible for this team who is learning to put its strengths to their advantage. It remains a work in progress however, but by the time they get their full lineup on the ice, getting those two victories feels really good… both for the team and the fans alike.
*By adding 4 points to their record over the weekend, the Rapids have now moved up into 5th spot in the Eastlink North division standings. They have the same number of points (8) than the Miramichi Timberwolves, but Grand Falls has one more victory (4) than Miramichi (3).
Both teams are 5 points behind Edmundston and Fredericton who share 4th spot with 13 points. The Summerside Western Capitals hold top spot in the division with 19 points, followed by the Campbellton Tigers with 14 points.
*Even though the Rapids remain the second most penalized team in the league, their penalty kill continues to be impressive, standing this week at 85.1% in efficiency.
The Rapids’ power play is less efficient however as it ranks last in their division at 17.5%. Grand Falls has scored 7 PP goals this season in 40 opportunities.
*Dominic Leblanc remains the team’s leading scorer with 7 goals and 6 assists for 13 points. He is followed by Zac Arsenault (4g 7a 11 pts). Both players also lead the team in power play points with 3.
Yannic Bastarache, with a performance of 3 goals and 2 assists over the weekend, was named among the league’s stars of the week.
*Gio DiMattia has been busy in goal lately, playing in 7 of the team’s 10 games thus far this season and earning all 4 victories. His goals against average stands at 3.70 with a save percentage of .900 in 422 minutes played between the pipes.
The Rapids have added a new goalie to their team last week: Nicholas Heinzle comes from the OJHL and was DiMattia’s backup for the two games played last weekend.
As mentioned earlier, Nolan Boyd has requested a trade after spending four seasons with the team. Boyd was the only original player left from the first team that played in Grand Falls during the 2018-2019 season.
RAPIDS’ NEXT GAMES:
Friday 7:30pm: Yarmouth Mariners at Rapids (E.&P. Sénéchal Centre)
Sunday 3:00pm: Miramichi Timberwolves at Rapids (E.&P. Sénéchal Centre)