Nationals clip second-place River Drivers
CORNWALL ONTARIO – Ian Boots found the back of the net twice and the Nationals toughed out a 5-3 victory over the Berlin River Drivers on Sunday afternoon at the Civic Complex in front of 938 fans.
It was a huge three points for the expansion Nationals in a physical contest with the Federal Hockey League’s second-place River Drivers. The matinee featured hard hits and a rare five fights, including two goaltenders going toe-to-toe at centre ice.
JC Houde opened the scoring for the Nationals at 4:46 of the first with a perfectly placed wrist shot that surprised Berlin goaltender Matt Kaludis.
Brent Clarke then set up MJ Graham for his 12th of the season on a pretty passing play that started with an outlet pass from Maxime Guyon. The highlight reel goal gave the Nationals at 2-0 lead at 12:12 of the first.
Dominik Synek cut Cornwall’s lead in half when he beat a sprawling Paul Bourbeau Jr. with 3:54 to play in the first. Synek added his second of the contest at 9:50 of the second to level the score at 2-2.
The Nationals regained the lead when Lou Dickenson pounced on Guyon’s rebound at 13:23 of the second period. Then, with Cornwall on a powerplay, Boots’ one-timer with 3:17 to play in the middle frame fooled Kaludis and opened up a two-goal lead for the home team.
Boots of Akwesasne and Joel Trottier of Alexandria connected on the Nationals fifth goal at 7:03 of the third. Boots found a wide-open Trottier, who’s heavy blast bounced off Kaludis’ right pad right to Boots, who buried his second of the night into an empty net.
With 7:05 to play in the third, tempers flared and goaltenders Bourbeau Jr. and Kaludis met up at centre ice and dropped their trappers and blockers. Francis Dupuis finished the game in goal for the Nationals.
Berlin outshot Cornwall 35-34. Boots (first), Bourbeau Jr. (second) and Guyon were the announced stars.
In a special moment prior to puck drop, Peter Paiement of Open Hands Cornwall performed ‘Oh Canada’ on the red carpet.
The Nationals are back in action Friday, Feb. 3 at Berlin. Cornwall is back on home ice Saturday, Feb. 4 when the Danbury Titans visit the Civic Complex. Dan West of the CFL’s Ottawa REDBLACKS will be in attendance with the Grey Cup.
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Nats fall to Prowlers on home ice
The Port Huron Prowlers, led by a five-point performance from Ahmed Mahfouz, skated to a 7-5 victory over the Cornwall Nationals on Saturday night in front of 752 fans at the Civic Complex.
Mahfouz opened the scoring for the Prowlers 5:38 into the contest, beating Francis Dupuis with a tap-in goal.
Ten seconds later, Maxime Guyon leveled the score for the Nationals and fans littered the ice with new and gently used warm items such as tuques, scarves and mittens, which were donated to “Warm up Cornwall.”
Mahfouz continued to pad his FHL scoring lead, setting up Matt Robertson, who gave the Prowlers a 2-1 lead at 9:20 of the opening frame.
The game was delayed after a glass-shattering hit by Cornwall’s Joe Cannan late in the first period.
Chris Martin, left all alone in front of Dupuis, gave Port Huron a 3-1 lead 7:05 into the second.
With Chris Cloutier in the penalty box, Sylvester Bzdyl’s shorthanded effort brought the Nationals to within a goal at 9:35 of the second.
Then, Peter Mott’s shot from the point trickled past James Robbins at 12:32 of the middle period. Twenty-eight seconds later, MJ Graham set up Bzdyl with a nifty pass to give the Nationals their first lead of the evening.
But, Scott Witmyer took advantage of some sloppy Nationals play and leveled the score at 4-4 with 1:53 to play in the second.
The Prowlers came out flying in the third, scoring two goals in the opening 69 seconds. Branden Parkhouse beat Dupuis 24 seconds into the period before Josh Colten’s shot from the point trickled in.
Mahfouz then buried a powerplay goal with 8:56 to play in the contest. Lou Dickenson, in his return to Cornwall, rounded out the scoring with 3:43 to play.
The Nationals are back in action Sunday afternoon, as the Berlin River Drivers visit the Civic Complex. FHL action begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are only $13 for adults, $10 for seniors/students and $5 for children ages 12 and under.