WINDSOR, N.S. — The Avon River Rats will open the home portion of their 2017-2018 Nova Scotia Regional Junior Hockey season with a huge game in Windsor on Jan. 7 against the first place Spryfield Attack.
The last time these two clubs met was in a tenacious checking affair in Windsor when the Attack squeezed out a 3-2 late game win. However, with the Rats now trailing the Attack by only three points, Jan. 7 promises to be all hands on deck.
The Rats will have to be even more mean with their fore-checking Jan. 7 as they encounter the league’s top two scorers in Dan MacKnight and Francis Poirier. Both players have 64 points, with MacKnight scoring 36 goals and Poirier 31.
The River Rats' Kyle Armsworthy holds down fifth place in the league scoring race with 40 points on 14 goals and 26 assists.
Prior to the Jan. 7 home game, the Rats will be on the road for a contest with the Cumberland-Colchester Colts on Friday, Jan 5.
The main stumbling block for the River Rats to date has been the uneven schedule. Despite the fact they trail the Attack by only three points for first place, the River Rats have played the most league games at 24 with only eight remaining while both the Attack and Eastern Shore Thunder both have four games in hand on the Rats.
Avon stands at 16-8-0-0 while the Attack are 17-1-0-1 and Eastern Shore at 13-8-0-0.
The Rats and Spryfield have played five games against each other to date this season with the Rats winning 5-3 and 9-8 in a shoot-out while the Attack won 3-2, shut them out 3-0, and defeated them 8-3. The Attack have outscored the River Rats 25-19 in five games.
Besides the Jan. 7 game, the River Rats and Spryfield Attack will play each other twice more before the regular season ends in February. As for Eastern Shore, the River Rats are 2-4-0-0 against them this season, having been outscored 30-24.
The River Rats enter the 2018 portion of their schedule on a three-game winning streak.
The following is a brief recap on their games leading up to the Christmas break.
River Rats down Colts 6-5
Despite the Colts' dismal record, they forced the River Rats to earn every goal and the two points on Dec. 15.
Avon led 2-1 after 20 minutes before the game became a see-saw affair with the biggest lead for the duration of the game being 4-2 for Avon in the second period.
Scoring for the River Rats were Parker Connors and Justin MacLellan with a pair and singles to Braeden Roach and Adam Ferguson.
This contest saw a flare-up of tempers mid-way through the third period with 78 minutes in penalties being called on one stoppage of play that resulted in three game misconducts, three misconducts and two fighting majors called to go along with four minor penalties.
River Rats defeat Thunder 5-1
Avon goaltender Carter McMullin showed why he is considered the team’s number one goalie blocking 37 of 38 shots directed at him for .974 save percentage in the River Rats' Dec. 16 game against the Eastern Shore Thunder.
Avon had a little more luck with their 38 shots.
The Thunder scored their only goal of the game in the first period when they took a 1-0 lead before the Rats rallied for five consecutive goals from Devon Pennell, who had two on the night, Logan Cleveland, Armsworthy and MacLellan.
River Rats crush Penguins 11-4
The River Rats fell behind 4-1 early in the second period against the East Hants Ryson Construction Penguins before throwing it into overdrive. The River Rats scored nine unanswered goals for an 11-4 win.
Both Alex King and Cleveland potted two goals. Singles went to Cam Dauphinee, Armsworthy, Will Trenholm, Ferguson, Connors, MacLellan and Pennell.