Avon River Rats skate to 6-4 victory over South Shore

Dan Boyd
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Published on December 11, 2013

River Rats' Wyatt Oulton, Zach Miller and captain Dave Phillips battle the South Shore Wild's Andrew Osborne and Matthew Lohnes while Matt MacMinn goes for the cover up.

Published on December 11, 2013

The South Shore Wild's goaltender, Daniel Lohnes, deflects a puck and looks to his right, not seeing Ben Nelson, No. 11, ready to swoop in and put the River Rats up 1-0 Dec. 7. Nelson went on to score two more times.

Published on December 11, 2013

River Rats' goalie Matt MacMinn congratulates Ben Nelson, front, and Corey Dewtie after Nelson scored the first goal of the Dec. 7 game against the South Shore Wild. Nelson scored three times during the Rats' 6-3 win.

Published on December 11, 2013

Team captain Dave Phillips has some words with Matthew Lohnes. Game officials gave Phillips a two-minute penalty for cross-checking.

Published on December 11, 2013

As the River Rats played shorthanded in the first period, Matt MacMinn made several pad saves, including this one against Justin Taylor. By the time the period was out, Taylor, unassisted, managed to best MacMinn, tying the game 3-3.

Published on December 11, 2013

Matt MacMinn made 30 of 34 saves during the River Rats 6-4 win against the South Shore Wild Dec. 7. It was MacMinn's first game with the River Rats.

Published on December 11, 2013

A South Shore Wild player tries to clear the puck just as the team's goalie, Daniel Lohnes, gets a handle on it. Also pictured is Matt Lyttle, whose attempt on net in the second period was stymied. Lyttle went on to score with 1:10 left in the second period to knot the score 4-4.

Published on December 11, 2013

Playing shorthanded, the River Rats were ready to defend their goalie, Matt MacMinn, against the South Shore Wild. The hometown team won the match 6-4. It was MacMinn's first game with the River Rats.

Published on December 11, 2013

Matt Lahey wheels the puck up the ice as he makes a play on the South Shore Wild's net. Lahey picked up one point during the Dec. 7 game as he assisted on a goal. In the 14 games he's played to date this season, he's scored five times and assisted on three goals.

The Avon River Rats have a new head coach and are focusing on improving their game for the remaining Jr. C hockey season.

Darrell Lyttle, Avon River Rats co-general manager, said the executive felt it “was a step that had to be taken” and thanked Rick Purcell for his time spent behind the bench.

“Despite Rick's hard work ethic, the River Rats team record was not improving and we sincerely believe we have a better club than what our record indicates,” said Lyttle.

Grant Veinot, a veteran minor hockey coach as well as a former member of the Windsor Alpines team that won the Maritime Intermediate A Championship in 1974-75, was selected to coach the team. His official appointment took place Friday morning.

Veinot's debut behind the River Rats’ bench was a successful one as the Jr. C team pulled out an important 6-4 victory Saturday evening, Dec. 7, at the Hants Exhibition Arena.  

Sam Ross, a key player for the River Rats and one of their top scorers, was asked following the win for his reaction to the coaching change. He described it as “a tough break,” adding that the team “owed Rick a large thank you” because he stepped up 18 months ago to coach when the club wasn’t even sure they would ice a team.

As for the Rats’ new bench boss, Veinot said despite the 6-4 win, the team must “move the puck at a much faster pace out of their own end."  

The River Rats were playing without one of their key scorers due to an injury. Sam Ross's brother, Ben, fell Friday night, Dec. 6, and required 20 stitches in his foot. He is expected to be missing from the line-up for up to two weeks.

The River Rats opened scoring in the first with a pair of goals from Ben Nelson and team captain Dave Phillips just 39 seconds apart. But, the 2-0 advantage was short-lived as the South Shore Wild rallied to tie the game with two goals only 10 seconds apart.

The teams later exchanged goals and it was 3-3 at the end of the first period.

With the score still tied mid-way through the second, a Wild player streaked down the Rats left side and let a slap shot go, which new goaltender Matt MacGinn made a great blocker save and deflected the puck into the audience.  

The South Shore then moved in front 4-3. As the second was coming to a close, Matt Lyttle took a pass from Phillips and Jeremy Parker and blasted one from the point to tie the game at 4-4 with only 1:16 showing on the clock.  

The River Rats went in front in the latter stages of the third as Sam Ross fed a pass to Corey Dewtie who slid it over to Jake Hopewell. He let a shot go from the point that sailed about 20 feet into the air. The Wild goaltender lost sight of the puck before it fell behind him into the net.

Nelson who scored two of his goals in the first period, added his third into an empty net late in the game.



River Rats collapse in third period to Colts

University and community college exams and Junior C hockey have never gone well together and the Avon River Rats trip to Amherst Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8, proved to be no different. Many players were facing critical exams this week and were not able to play.

The end result saw the River Rats with only 10 skaters in the line-up play a shoot-out affair with the second place Amherst Colts. They were tied 7-7 after 40 minutes before allowing four unanswered goals in the third period for an 11-7 loss.

Amherst led 4-2 after the opening period before the River Rats fell behind 7-4 in the second period, only to rally with three goals in the final four minutes of the middle frame to knot the game at 7-7.

Tyler Young moved closer to at least a 20-goal season as he scored four times in the contest, including two on the power-play, to give him 18 goals so far on the season.

He added a pair of assists for a six-point afternoon.

Nelson, with his fourth goal of the weekend, Sam Ross and Thomas Malone tallied singles.

The Rats were outshot 58-41 and are now 6-12 on the season and seven points back of the fourth place Fundy Rhino Renovations.

The River Rats will head into their final game before Christmas this Sunday, Dec. 15, at Hants Exhibition Arena at 5 p.m. against the Clare Lions.

Organizations: Avon River Rats, South Shore Wild, Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League Nova Scotia Jr. C Hockey League

Geographic location: South Shore, Windsor, Hants County West Hants

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