RAPIDS’ WEEKLY REPORT – October 26
The Rapids were on the road in Nova Scotia last week as they were trying to get back into the winning column. Thursday’s loss against the South Shore Lumberjacks was difficult for both the offensive and defensive units as Grand Falls was outshot 42 to 14 in a 2-0 decision. Goaltender Gio DiMattia was the main reason why his team hung around until the very end of the contest.
Then on Friday night in Yarmouth, the Rapids were less than two minutes away to at least forcing overtime, but the Mariners took advantage of a scramble in front of the net to score the game winning goal at 18:46 of the third, skating away with a 3-2 victory. It was a 5th consecutive defeat for the Rapids as they have fallen to four games under the .500 mark and now find themselves in the bottom of the standings in the Eastlink North division.
There are obviously some adjustments to make in order to get this team going in the right direction. As mentioned in the last report, this a very talented squad, but it needs to find the same swagger it had during the first couple of games of the season when it appeared they were playing with much more poise and confidence. They posted a record of 2 wins and 1 loss in their first three games on the schedule, scoring a total of 14 goals while allowing 15 to their opponents. The power play was also producing at a high rate as 5 goals were scored with the man advantage during that span.
Since then, the defense has played better, even if it meant for the d-men to be less aggressive while carrying the puck. Offensively however, it’s been more difficult as the team has scored 8 goals in its last 5 contests, including only 2g in the last three outings. The power play has also had a tough time getting back on track, scoring only 1 goal in its last 5 games.
Despite the occasional bad penalty that can be a major momentum killer at times, the Rapids have been able to stick around with their opponents, and it has to be noted that the penalty kill has been amazing: Grand Falls ranks second in the league in that department at 87.2%. They still need to spend less time in the box however: their 204 total penalty minutes also ranks second in the league.
Another bright note has been the performance of both goaltenders. Gio DiMattia and Nolan Boyd have been sensational, and they deserve lots of credit for keeping things close as the Rapids have been outshot in all 8 games they have played thus far this season. What is remarkable also in their case is that the opponent has averaged close to 40 shots per game since the beginning of the season.
It may be too soon to say that this group is in search of its identity. It is more than apparent that the coaching staff is working hard in trying to piece things together. Let’s remind everyone that they also have to deal with a revamped defensive unit and a group of new players on offense that still needs to find a way to create more scoring opportunities, both at even strength and on the power play.
As a team, the Rapids need to find a comfort zone and it takes only one victory to regain some much-needed confidence. Nick Tremere’s squad will get that opportunity next weekend as two divisional rivals (Edmundston and Campbellton) come to town. The Rapids need to prove that they belong with the big guys of their division and showcase all of their talent in all facets of the game.
*The Rapids are now 6th in the Eastlink North division standings with a record of 2 wins and 6 losses for 4 points. They are 2pts back of the Miramichi Timberwolves who have played one more game than Grand Falls.
*The Rapids have added two new players to their lineup this past week. They acquired on Wednesday forward Cameron Brown in a trade with the South Shore Lumberjacks. Grand Falls sends in return a 4th round pick in the 2023 MHL draft. Brown was available to play both games of the recent Nova Scotia trip.
Then on the weekend, the Rapids announced that they had acquired defenseman James Rogers from the Trenton Golden Hawks of the OPJHL in return for future considerations. Rogers should be ready to suit up for next weekend’s contests against the Blizzard and thre Tigers.
*Dominic Leblanc remains the team’s leading scorer with 6 goals and 5 assists for 11 points. He is followed by Zac Arsenault (2g 5a 7pts).
Both Leblanc and Arsenault also lead in power play points, posting identical records of 1 goal and 2 assists for 3 points.
*Gio DiMattia ranks 7th in the league in save percentage with 0.913. DiMattia has a goals against average of 3.40 in 5 games played this season.
Nolan Boyd made 3 starts between the pipes, registering a 5.71 GAA.
*We would like to send our thoughts and prayers to the family of the victim regarding the horrible accident which occurred on Sunday involving the Miramichi Timberwolves’ team bus. We always hope that something of the sort never happens, but the risk remains very much present. Let’s hope that everyone who happened to be on the bus at the time is doing well.
RAPIDS’ NEXT GAMES:
Friday 7:30pm: Edmundston Blizzard at Rapids (E.&P.Sénéchal Centre)
Sunday 3pm: Campbellton Tigers at Rapids (E.&P. Sénéchal Centre)