Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
Not many people could have predicted how the game between the Brockville Braves and Nepean Raiders on Friday would have started. Even less would have guessed how close the ending was going to be with it how opened.
The Braves were back on the winning side of things after beating the Raiders 4-3 on home ice.
Brockville went into the game having lost three of their last four games and they looked like they were going to rebound in a big way with three goals on 28 shots in the first period with newcomer Curtis Abbott, Nicholas Hawkins, and Philippe Gilmour finding the back of the net.
If the Raiders would have scored a quick goal to start the second period then maybe there could have been some sort of inkling of a comeback possibly happening. If anyone had those thoughts — and there probably wasn’t many considering how much the Braves dominated in the first period — they were quickly put to rest when Brockville’s Payton Schaly scored less than three minutes into the middle frame.
The Braves were out-shooting the Raiders 44-11 by the middle of the second period and it looked like they were going to cruise to the win, but then Nepean scored back-to-back goals just four minutes apart in the second-half of the period. By the end of the period the shot count was 49-24 in favour of Brockville.
Both teams had their fair share of chances in the third period, but Nepean wasn’t able to cut into the lead again until Jason Clark scored with 49 seconds left in regulation.
The Raiders came very close to sending the game into overtime when the puck popped out of the corner and right to Tyler Orban, who was sitting in the slot all by himself with seconds left on the clock, but saw the puck skip over his stick.
“Our goal tonight was to come in, put our foot down, re-establish ourselves by playing the right way and we did that and we got the two points, so we can’t be overly critical,” said Braves coach Jesse Winchester. “But, you don’t want to let a team get back in.”
The way the Braves dominated in the first period is as good, if not better, than anything they did over their entire 14-game win streak, which ended a little less than two weeks ago.
Brockville completely debunked their recent slide, which included a two-game losing skid and dropping three of their last four matchups.
The Braves scored just two goals combined in their previous two games going into Friday’s matchup. They surpassed that total in 16 minutes Friday.
Brockville hit the net just 24 times against the Smiths Falls Bears this past Tuesday and got 20 shots on Ottawa Jr. Senators netminder Francis Boisvert last Sunday. The Braves had 28 shots by the end of the first period on Friday and they finished the game with a season-high 65 shots.
A disappointed coach Winchester called out his team after last week’s 5-3 win against the Cornwall Colts, saying he needed an “honest effort” from every player in the lineup and he hadn’t seen that in the last few weeks. Friday’s win was the first game Brockville won in three tries since he made that comment.
With a mix of being in complete control and then almost seeing overtime, what did the bench boss think of his team’s effort this time around?
“We’re still working on it. We came out firing on all cylinders and the game was totally in our control. (Nepean) gave a push back and we let them in by trading chances. We still have things to learn and a ways to go,” said Winchester. “We won, but it’s not nice to let the team back into the game and the best teams don’t do that. We’re a good team, but we’re not the best.”
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE PENALTY KILL?
There was a point when Brockville’s penalty kill was too good to be true. It seems like nowadays it’s coming back to reality.
The Braves killed off all 34 of their penalties in the eight games between Sept. 21 and Oct. 17. Since then Brockville has played seven games and given up a shorthanded goal in six them. Their penalty kill has gone 7-for-32 (78.1 per cent) over that time.
It’s far from time to panic right now for Braves fans, but it’s a trend to keep an eye on.
The Braves will travel to Rockland on Sunday to take on the Nationals before returning home Sunday to host the Carleton Place Canadians.
Original Story at Recorder.ca