RAPIDS’ WEEKLY REPORT – November 9
After 12 games played on the regular season schedule, we now have a better understanding of what this Rapids’ team is capable of moving forward. They will be tested often in the upcoming weeks as they play 8 times before the end of the month, always with the intention of earning a spot in the playoffs at season’s end.
With a revamped defensive corps and some new additions up front, it is understandable that it takes a certain period of time to adjust to a new system, new teammates and to the level of play of the league.
There were some rough patches in which the team went through at the start of the season, but it seems that the confidence level is gradually building up and that the players believe that they can compete and come out on top against every single team they play against.
There will be some learning curves along the way as mistakes will be made, but that belongs to the process of what we call improvement. Discipline at times remains an issue, so is the power play which stands last in its division. However, if the team does improve at both levels and players stick to the task at hand, good things can only happen when you put in all the necessary work.
The Rapids completed last weekend a very successful homestand, winning three out of four games against some very good squads. They won by not only correcting certain flaws from their game, but also by exploiting their strengths as a unit. Those strengths are what makes this team fun to watch. They proved that they have enough firepower on offense to crawl back into a game after falling behind early. The depth they have at that department is also a great asset as the team doesn’t always have to depend on a player or two to guide the offence.
Defensemen can also contribute offensively, but they also have learned in recent weeks to create a good first pass getting out of their own end instead of carrying the play too far into the opposing territory. There is some great talent at the blue line and even though mistakes will be made at times, there are signs that this young and inexperienced defensive corps is learning to get better with each game behind them.
And let’s not forget the goaltending… it has been awesome since the beginning of the season and if not for some key saves early in the third period on Sunday, the comeback victory might not have been possible.
The coaching staff has also done a great job trying to get everyone pulling in the right direction. There were some obstacles along the way, such as injuries to key players which is never easy to deal with as far as game planning is concerned. But the coaches are responsible for the improvement we are seeing on the ice, and they are very optimistic about the team’s chances of getting even better in the near future. After Sunday’s great comeback win against Miramichi, head coach Nick Tremere was very satisfied with his team’s performance:
“I’m happy with our guys’ overall play today as they stayed with it all the way, battled back, and found a way to win”, mentions Tremere.
“After a tough stretch for our group, we have had a good response winning 3 of our last 4 games. The confidence in our group is building and we will look to continue to take steps forward this week with three key divisional matchups”.
The Rapids will in fact have a busy week ahead as they play three games against their Eastlink North divisional rivals, all of those matchups played on the road. On Wednesday, they will try to remain ahead of the Timberwolves in the standings as they travel to Miramichi. The following night, they will clash with the Edmundston Blizzard, a team they have played well against this season. Then on Sunday afternoon, the Rapids will be in Fredericton to meet the Red Wings.
Playing on the road is never easy, but the opposing teams will realize from now on that playing an improved Rapids’ team will not be as pleasant as they might think.
*The Rapids are 1 point ahead of the Miramichi Timberwolves in the Eastlink North division standings. Grand Falls is 5th with a record of 5 wins and 7 losses for 10 points but take note that Miramichi has played two more games than the Rapids thus far this season.
*Alexis Cournoyer returned to the lineup last weekend after spending some time on the injured list. He scored his first goal as a Rapid on Friday night against the Yarmouth Mariners and picked up an assist in Sunday’s win against Miramichi.
*By adding 2 goals and 2 assists to his record over the weekend, Dominic Leblanc has moved to the 14th spot among the league’s leading scorers. In 12 games played this season, Leblanc scored 9 goals and has 8 assists for a total of 17 points.
He is also tied for third in the league in game winning goals with 2.
*Defenseman Zac Arsenault is the team’s second leading scorer with 4 goals and 8 assists for 12 points. He is followed by Yannic Bastarache (6g 5a 11pts) and Adam Fowlow (4g 4a 8pts).
RAPIDS’ NEXT GAMES:
Wednesday 7:00pm: Rapids at Miramichi Timberwolves
Thursday 7:30pm: Rapids at Edmundston Blizzard
Sunday 2pm: Rapids vs Fredericton Red Wings