Red Wings send Grand Falls crashing

The Fredericton Red Wings played the Grand Falls Rapids at the Grant Harvey Centre in Fredericton, N.B., on Nov. 14, 2021. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

The Fredericton Red Wings defeated the Grand Falls Rapids in a game at the Grant Harvey Centre on Nov. 14.

Nearly 700 fans for both teams packed the stands, dotting the rows with masked faces. Season ticket-holder Anita White was excited to see the hometown fanbase fill the arena.

“The crowd seemed to be really engaged in the play,” she said. “There was a lot of cheering, it was a good game.”

The Red Wings shut-out the Rapids 5-0 in their last September meeting. Taking the loss hard, the Rapids arrived in the capital ready to play. Both teams traded the lead until the last period.

The afternoon game started fairly evenly. Falling into a back and forth pattern, they placed Slava Melikov in front of the net, where he nailed two hard shots early on. The Rapids responded with a breakout led by Adam Follow, shooting high and out of play.

They continued to create chances until a turnover gave forward Kobe Burt control, igniting Fredericton. Bernier and forward Zack Bishop fought Rapids’ defenceman hard in the sockets, until left-winger Sam Campbell nearly landed a wraparound – resulting in Red Wings’ player Cole Fraser receiving an interference call.

“Playing in front of the home crowd is fun, to get out there and have my family watching,” said Bishop, making his hometown debut.

Fredericton Red Wings forward Zack Bishop made his hometown debut on Nov. 14, 2021. (Submitted: Dennieg Photography)

Bishop said his family watched him play during the pre-season, but this was their first time seeing him play at home.

The Red Wings’ first penalty kill was lead by Bernier as the team fended off the Rapids hovering around their zone. They were able to land a shot on net, bouncing off Savoie’s torso – who stopped 27 shots overall. Their opponent’s first goal of the game was from forward Dominic LeBlanc.

The period ended with two consecutive penalties. The Rapids’ player Jeremie Gagnon was sat for boarding, allowing Red Wings’ centremen, Daniel Maceachern and Bernier, to come together. The Red Wings scored their first goal with a one-timer strategy, using quick short passes that found themselves launched into the air until Maceachern found the back of the net.

The last power play started when Rapids’ player Max Chisholm kneed an opponent, earning a four-minute double minor. Fredericton defencemen Logan Caruthers kept the puck inside the offensive zone.

The second period started in the Red Wings’ zone. Another save from Savoie helped ease the pressure, while forward Nathan Kelly got down and used his stick to stop an opponent’s pass.

Fredericton Red Wings player Slava Melikov, right, nailed two hard shots early on in the game. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

The Rapids tied up the game with 8 minutes left in the period after a breakout from centre ice.

After a Rapids power play goal to start the third period, Red Wings’ forward Gabriel Bernier quickly tied it up six minutes into the period. 

Teammate Melikov later followed suit. Gaining his eighth goal of the season, defenseman Adam Tracey handed him the puck in front of the net, pushing the lead to 3-2 halfway through.

The run ended with Bernier scoring again, finding the empty net from his end with less than a minute of play. Dropping down to use pads, Savoie stopped Rapids’ centre Alexis Cournoyer’s break-away in-between the last two Red Wings’ goals.

The Red Wings won 4-2.