There is no better place than playing on home ice, but it certainly helps to know a lot about your team when you play on the road for a few games. Team character and solid bonds are created, expectations and distractions are less and there is no better feeling than to have the home team on its heels and quieting the home crowd.
As it was the case with the Rapids last weekend, picking up points in the standings is very rewarding when it follows commitment and hard work.
By picking up 3 points out of 4 in Nova Scotia, the Rapids have got themselves back to the .500 mark while also getting into a better position in the standings. With 7 points to their credit, they are only 1pt behind West Kent and Campbellton for the third spot in the Eastlink North division standings.
It wasn’t easy… two hard-fought battles in which games were decided by a single goal. However, there were times when the Rapids seemed to control the pace of the game and despite playing the defending champs on Saturday night, the intimidation factor was far from being a factor. They did surrender a two-goal lead mid-way in the contest to the Mariners, but they also did come back to tie the score after Yarmouth had scored three unanswered goals to take the lead in the third period. A shootout loss is nothing to be ashamed of, especially since Grand Falls was in the game from start to finish against the first-place team in the South.
Gio DiMattia played a great game in net, facing 29 shots and making numerous key saves.
As for Sunday afternoon’s tilt against the Valley Wildcats, it was a tough and physical grind, but at the end, the penalty kill did the job for the Rapids as they held on to a 5-4 victory. Dominic LeBlanc was the offensive star of the game with 4g and 1a while his line had a 10-point production. Adam Lecours was also a key figure for the Rapids, picking up his second win of the season between the pipes.
There were game ejections on both sides, which saw the Rapids’ penalty minutes’ total jump up quite a bit: 177 min. in total thus far which ranks them as the most penalized team of their division. Is there reason to be concerned? Let’s put it this way… there is no trophy awarded for the team that will finish last in PIM during a season. There is only concern when there is undisciplined play, but when it comes to protecting teammates and battling against physical teams, there is nothing better than to get a team going and more united while aiming for the same goal.
For head coach Greg Leland, picking up 3 points in two games in Nova Scotia last weekend is very enjoyable and encouraging.
“We are pleased with how we are playing as that provides more opportunities to succeed”, mentions the Rapids’ head coach.
There are two more games remaining on the road for the Rapids before they return in front of their fans. They play against West Kent and Fredericton this upcoming weekend before a four-game homestand starting on October 20th.
DOMINIC LeBLANC LEADS ALL GOAL SCORERS
Dominic LeBlanc had a 7-point performance last weekend in Nova Scotia (4g 3a). His points total for the season is now at 17 (11g 6a), which ranks him second in the MHL scoring race. He is also the only player thus far to reach the 10-goal plateau.
LeBlanc has also to his credit 3 power play goals, 2 shorthanded tallies and 2 game winning goals.
His contribution to the team, and we might add to the coaching staff, extends more than on the ice. His leadership and preparation are keys to his success, which also reflects on the play and attitude of his teammates. Head coach Greg Leland is more than happy of LeBlanc’s dominant presence in every facet of the game:
“Dominic is a dominant force in every game we’ve had. His physical and mental preparation are terrific, and he takes great pride in his craft”.
Adds Leland: “He is our undisputed leader and sets the tone in the gym, during practices and in each game. He’s an extension of our coaching staff and we lean on him for honest and thoughtful feedback. He’s a pleasure to work with”.
TEAM NEWS AND STATS:
*Jeremy Boulanger is the Rapids’ second leading scorer with a record of 4g and 8a for 12pts, which ranks him 12th in the league.
Ethan Johnson follows with a record of 3g 8a for 11pts.
*Despite being the most penalized team in their division, the Rapids have allowed the fewest power play goals among the Eastlink North teams (5). That performance ranks them first in their division in penalty kill with an 86.1 percentage. Only the Yarmouth Mariners (87,0%) are more efficient in that department in the entire league.
NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE:
*The Edmundston Blizzard sit atop the Eastlink North division standings with a record of 6 wins and 2 losses for 12 points. Teams following in order are: Miramichi (10pts), Campbellton and West Kent (8pts), Grand Falls and Fredericton (7pts).
In the Eastlink South, Yarmouth ranks first with 10pts, followed by Summerside and Truro (8pts), Amherst (7pts), Pictou County (6pts), while the Valley Wildcats are in search of their first win of the season at 0 wins and 7 losses.
*The longest winning streak this week belongs to the Miramichi Timberwolves. They have won their last 4 games, which gives them a record of 5 wins and only 1 loss on the season.
THE RAPIDS UPCOMING SCHEDULE:
*Friday October 13th: Rapids at West Kent (7:30 pm)
*Sunday October 15th: Rapids at Fredericton (2:00 pm)