There are a couple of ways to look at the Rapids’ performance last weekend.
Dropping two games on home ice is certainly not what the team had envisioned following a nice four-game road trip. However, and without giving any excuses, we have this to consider:
Friday night’s effort against the Pictou County Weeks Crushers was far from disappointing, especially since the Rapids sent more than 50 shots on goal if we count those in the shootout session. Weeks Crushers’ netminder Kenzie MacPhail was absolutely phenomenal between the pipes and he definitely made difference in the final outcome. As for his counterpart, Adam Lecours, in any other contest he would have been chosen the game’s first star. Lecours made numerous saves and kept the Rapids in the hunt for the victory.
Dominic LeBlanc had actually given Grand Falls the lead late in the third period, but the visitors were able to tie the score a few minutes later to send the game into overtime.
Then there is Sunday afternoon’s game against the Summerside Western Capitals, a team that has lost only once in regulation time this season and appears destined once more for a championship run.
After taking an early lead, the Rapids saw their opponents score three unanswered goals before the end of the first period. From then on, it became difficult for the Rapids to get back in the game as the Western Capitals played a very strong game defensively.
There were a few mistakes along the way for the Rapids: a couple of odd-man rushes resulted in goals and the team allowed two power play tallies. However, the final score didn’t necessarily reflect on the good effort that was deployed by Greg Leland’s squad.
Despite those results, there were some positive signs happening on the ice. We witnessed the emergence of forward Marcellus Francis who amazed the fans with his speed and skills. Francis scored twice on the breakaway over the weekend, his first two goals in a Rapids’ uniform.
There is also the steady play at the blue line of defenseman Raphael Denis that continues to be noticed around the league. And as for the goaltending, it is still very clear that the Rapids have one of the best duos in the league at that position.
We should add also that Ethan Johnson made a return to the lineup, giving the top line its renewed punch up front. Dominic LeBlanc scored his league-leading 14th goal of the season on Sunday while tying Alexis Daniel of West Kent for the most power play goals this season (6).
And finally, we learned that two players (LeBlanc and goaltender Adam Lecours) had been chosen to take part in the 2023 Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge which will be held from 13th to 15th in Trenton, Ontario.
Only one game is on the schedule for the Rapids next weekend as they host the West Kent Steamers on Friday night. It will already be the third meeting between those two teams this season.
TEAM NEWS AND STATS:
*The Rapids sit in 5th spot in the Eastlink North division with a record of 4 wins, 5 losses and 2 extra time defeats for a total of 10 points. They are 1 point back of the Campbellton Tigers who hold the 4th position in the standings.
*Grand Falls is no longer the most penalized team of the Eastlink North division. That distinction now belongs to the Edmundston Blizzard (264 min.). The Rapids are second in that statistical department with a total of 251 PIM.
*Special teams stats: the Rapids are 5th in their division in power play efficiency (25.6%) and 2nd in penalty kill (81.6%).
The Rapids have scored 11 PP goals this season and 3 shorthanded goals.
Dominic LeBlanc leads the team in both categories (6 PP goals and 2 SH goals).
*LeBlanc also leads the team in winning goals with 2. He is currently 7th in the MHL scoring race with a record of 14 goals and 7 assists for 21 points.
The second leading scorer for the Rapids is Jeremy Boulanger (4g 12a for 16pts), followed by Ethan Johnson (3g 10a for 13 points) and Jules Delepoulle (1g 8a for 9 points).
NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE:
*The team with the best winning streak this week remains the Miramichi Timberwolves who won their 7th consecutive game last weekend.
West Kent is also having a nice run with 5 victories in their last 6 games.
*The Edmundston Blizzard and the West Kent Steamers share first spot in the Eastlink North division with 18 points each.
In the Eastlink South, Summerside leads with 18 points, followed by Truro and Yarmouth (14 points each).
*Felix Bedard of the Edmundston Blizzard leads all scorers with 12g and 14a for 26 points. He is followed by Blake Eastman of Summerside (12-12-24). Three players are tied with 22 points each: Ludovic Dufort (Miramichi), Carter McCluskey (Truro) and Alex Nadeau (Truro).
*Olivier Dallaire of the West Kent Steamers leads all goalies in goals against average with 1.62. He is followed by Nicholas Sheehan of the Edmundston Blizzard (2.20) and Adam Lecours of the Rapids (2.45).
THE RAPIDS UPCOMING SCHEDULE:
*Friday October 27th: West Kent at Rapids (7:00 pm)