After spending more than a week without playing a single game, the Rapids were back in action last weekend for a meeting with two divisional foes. Twelve days separated the team’s last victory against the Edmundston Blizzard (Sept. 18) with last Friday’s showdown against the defending champions, the Summerside Western Capitals. Of course, this was a momentum killer for a team that played extremely well against the Blizzard a couple weeks ago, earning a 7-3 victory.
However, taking into account this period of time off between games should not be considered as the main factor for the team’s two losses over the weekend. After all, the Western Capitals, who played a solid game on Friday night, were 13 days without seeing any action due to complications surrounding hurricane Fiona.
So, explaining these two losses could simply be put in two simple words: discipline and parity.
We must admit that most of the damage was self-inflicted… 4 out of the 9 goals allowed by the Rapids in total to their opponents were scored on the power play, which means that discipline was an issue at times, especially in critical junctures of the game, leaving the Rapids shorthanded when they especially needed a goal to get back into it. Grand Falls is currently the third most penalized team in the league, which is a statistic that has to be avoided at all costs this season.
As formidable as they were on special teams on the first weekend of play, the Rapids went 1 for 8 on the PP over the weekend while allowing 4 goals in 15 opportunities to their opponents.
Blaming solely the lack of discipline for these two losses would not be fair, because we certainly have to consider how much parity is present this season among the six teams composing the Eastlink North division.
Summerside and Miramichi are still unbeaten, Fredericton looks like a well-rounded team while Edmundston and Campbellton have already surpassed the 20-goal plateau while showing signs of getting better defensively. For the Rapids, having to contend against these teams on a regular basis is not an easy task… and it will be like this apparently for the entire season. Even if it’s much too early to talk about the playoffs, winning games within its own division will become a must early on, not only for gaining points in the standings, but also for building confidence as the season moves along.
What these players need to do is put the last two games behind them and concentrate on the next two which are also against divisional opponents. It is also worth noting that both of these games will be played once again on home ice.
Goaltender Frédéric Plourde explains what needs to be accomplished for the team to have success over the weekend:
“If we stay out of the penalty box, play our game, play well defensively and capitalize on our chances, we should be ok”, mentions Plourde.
Friday night, the Rapids will have their first glimpse this season of the Campbellton Tigers while on Sunday, Greg Leland’s squad will have the opportunity to avenge Sunday’s loss against the Blizzard.
These games are a great opportunity for the Rapids to get back on track and show their fans what they are capable of. A total of 727 spectators were on hand for Friday night’s contest while close to 800 attended Sunday afternoon’s game. A complete team effort could only acknowledge how talented this bunch can be.
*The Rapids and the Campbellton Tigers are currently tied for 5th spot in the Eastlink North division standings. Both teams have a record of 1 win and 3 losses. Summerside (4-0) and Miramichi (3-0) occupy the first two positions while Fredericton and Edmundston are tied with 4 points each.
Only the Truro Bearcats remain unbeaten in the Eastlink South division, but they have played only two games thus far on the schedule.
*Yannic Bastarache is the Rapids’ leading scorer with 4 goals and 3 assists for 7 points. He also has a winning goal to his credit and shares the lead in power play points (4) with Dominic Leblanc. Leblanc is second in team scoring with 3 goals and 1 assist.
*Frédéric Plourde has been rock solid between the pipes since his arrival with the Rapids. Plourde is third in the league in saves with 106. He has a 4.09 goals-against average and a 0.876 save percentage. His steady play in net has helped keep his team in games and he has made some highlight-reel saves over his last three starts in goal.
Playing in his third season in the league, Plourde does not feel any more pressure even though he is from nearby St.Leonard.
“Experience does help me a lot and since I was away from the region for the past five years, I’m just glad to be able to play in front of family and friends”.
A PREVIEW OF THIS WEEKEND’S MATCHUPS:
*The Rapids (1-3) will host the Campbellton Tigers (1-3) on Friday night. It will be the first meeting of the season between these two divisional rivals. After starting off with a win in Edmundston back on September 16th, the Tigers have dropped their last three games. Take note however that they have played all their games on the road thus far and will only play their first home game on October 14th.
Campbellton is last in the league with a 17.6% power play rating but is first in its division in penalty kill at 80%.
The Rapids will then renew their rivalry on Sunday afternoon with the Edmundston Blizzard (2-4). Edmundston’s two victories have come on the road: in Fredericton and in Grand Falls.
Alex Arsenault and Tristan Fortin both lead the team in scoring with identical records of 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points.
Friday October 7: Campbellton at Rapids (7:30 pm)
Sunday October 9: Edmundston at Rapids (3:00 pm)