The Avon River Rats were looking to avenge their 10-1 spanking by Clare when they took to the ice Sunday, and they did just that.
The Rats undressed the Clare Lions, who arrived with just 11 players, 7-1 Oct. 28.
Head Coach Rick Purcell said the team knew what they had to do when they took the ice.
“Against Clare, we did want to (avenge the loss),” said Purcell. “We did want to try to get some goals. Our team has been struggling goal-wise so I wanted to put that in their brain.”
Sam Ross was the first to score for the River Rats, doing so with 8:25 left in the first period.
The next to strike was Justin Cook, on the power play, midway through the second period. The Lions' Anthony LeBlanc managed to sneak the team's lone goal past River Rats goaltender Jesse Lawrence with 7:31 remaining in the middle frame. Assists went to Bennet Munroe and Alex Dennis. Curtis Lang quickly responded, putting the Rats ahead 3-1 with seven minutes remaining.
The third period was ripe with scoring — and fighting — for the hometown team. Chuck McNeil opened the scoring within the first minute of being back on the ice. Ryan Helpard then tallied one to make the score 5-1. As the period came to a close, Ben Ross added two goals within 30 seconds.
Assists for the River Rats went to Tom Malone (3), Ben Ross (2), and Corey Dewtie, Dave Phillips, Andy West, Curtis Lang, Justin Cook and Sam Ross.
Jesse Lawrence picked up the win in nets, stopping 27 of 28 goals. Ben Warren recorded the loss, facing 40 shots and stopping 33.
Purcell said the next time the two teams meet in Nova Scotia Jr. C Hockey League action, it will be a fun one for fans.
“Next time we play Clare I'm pretty sure we're going to have a really good game because they should have their full team and we should have our full team. It will probably be closer but I think we've got the upper edge now,” he said.
Although the game started off slow, Purcell was pleased to see the guys pick up their game in the second and third periods.
“We have quite a diverse team where they can hit and skate and maybe not score quite as much as I like, but that's coming too,” said Purcell.
The head coach said there were several stand out players in the Oct. 28 game in Brooklyn.
“I would say Curtis Lang has proven (he has) some good puck handling skills for us, some goal scoring,” said Purcell. “Ben and Sam Ross, no matter who we put them with at centre, they always get a lot of chances because of the forechecking (and) a lot of hard work.”
Chad Greenough was injured on a play behind the net and left the ice to get checked out.
“It was almost like two injuries,” Purcell said. “He hurt his shoulder but also he was feeling a little bit dizzy.”
Purcell said they had Greenough sit out the rest of the game and it appeared he was feeling fine by the end of the afternoon.
Purcell noted the entire line of defence was solid for the Rats.
About 80 minutes worth of penalties were doled out, spread almost evenly between the two teams. Justin Cook was suspended for fighting in the last 10 minutes of the third period.
The River Rats will entertain the Fundy Phantoms Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. in Brooklyn. Purcell hopes to see a good crowd come out to support the hometown team. It's the first time the River Rats will be meeting the tough Truro team this season.
“I think Truro is going to be a team that's going to be strong. We will have to come out and put a few goals in. It won't be an easy game for sure,” said Purcell.
The River Rats will then play the league-leading Chester Clippers in Windsor at 7:45 p.m. Nov. 9.
“I guarantee it'll be an exciting game. There's no doubt about that.”