The Raiders and the Thunderhawks renewed the rivalry in front of a packed IRA Civic Center on Thursday evening in Grand Rapids.
The Thunderhawks used four power play goals and a short handed goal in downing the Raiders, 7-3, to pick up their 10th win of the season.
“The kids generally came ready to play and played hard for the most part over three periods,” Grand Rapids head coach Bruce LaRoque said of the win.
The Thunderhawks started out fast with two quick goals in the opening minutes.
“The kids came out and we let in some soft goals. The play was pretty even for awhile there and we just gave up some goals and were behind the eight ball to start,” Greenway head coach Gary Gustason said. “Against a good team, you can’t make those mistakes.”
Robb Roy had a strong game for Grand Rapids with two goals and an assist. Defenseman Sam Rendle finished the game with four assists and Corey Kosak added a goal and two assists for the Thunderhawks.
“I thought most of the kids moved the puck, moved their feet and used each other quite well,” LaRoque said. “We need to get scoring out of all three lines and that’s for sure so we can keep the pressure constantly throughout the game. More importantly, hopefully, all of our guys are playing well defensively, giving us a chance to stay in games. You need to have a balanced attack to compete against some of the teams in double-A.”
Garrett Orhn, Adam Mendoza and Nick Adams tallied goals for the Raiders in the loss.
Special teams play haunted the Raiders on Thursday evening as they allowed four power play goals and one short-handed goal in the game.
“Obviously, it’s nice to do a good job on the power plays. One of the things we took was to stay out of the box and not give Greenway opportunities,” LaRoque said. “It was good to take advantage of those.”
“We struggled on the penalty kill and they move the puck well on the power play. Our penalty kill, going into this game has been really good,” Gustason said. “All of a sudden, we started standing around and we didn’t get a lot of sticks into the shooting area and that’s what causes some big rebounds and they went to the net and put them in.”
The Thunderhawks jumped out to the early lead on their first shot of the game. Grant Prokop dropped a pass back for Jack Moore, who fired it past Trevor Guyer to give the Thunderhawks the early 1-0 lead. John Skrbec had the second assist on the goal.
The Thunderhawks took advantage of an early Raider penalty to make it 2-0. Sam Rendle fired a shot from the point and Guyer made the save but the rebound came right to Robb Roy, who buried it into the back of the net to make it 2-0.
“It’s nice to capitalize early when you are putting some pressure on,” LaRoque said. “Sometimes, that can be your worst enemy and start laying back and they get hungry. It’s always nice, and rather have a 2-0 lead then a 0-2 deficit. It was nice to get out to the quick start.”
However, the Raiders came back with a power play goal of their own. Nice passing set the play up as Alex Guyer found Garrett Orhn at the point. Orhn wound and fired a blast from the point that found its way to the back of the net cutting the lead to 2-1. Matt Estey had the second assist on the goal.
The Thunderhawk special teams unit struck again late in the first period when Nate Dumm gained control of the puck in the neutral zone and skated in on Guyer. Dumm lasered a shot to the roof of the net over the arm of Guyer to make it 3-1 late in the period with the unassisted goal.
The Thunderhawks grabbed a 4-1 lead with another rebound goal. Kosak fired a blast from the point that was stopped by Guyer. J.R. Mackey gained control of the rebound and found the back of net. Rendle picked up the second assist on the goal.
The Thunderhawks capitalized on another Raider penalty when Kosak fired a blast from the point that found the back of the net giving the Thunderhawks the 5-1 lead in the second period. Roy assisted on the goal.
The Raiders cut the lead to three goals with the final goal in the second period. The first shot by Orhn hit the cross bar and dropped down in front for Mendoza to bury past Trevor Tabaka to make it 5-2. Adams had the second assist on the goal.
The Raiders started the third period with a short five-on-three power play but were unable to cut into the lead with that advantage. The Raiders did strike on the five-on-four portion of the power play when Adams found the net with Mendoza assisting to make it a 5-3 game.
However, penalties in the third period doomed the Raiders chances of a comeback as the Thunderhawks tallied two more power play goals.
Rendle fired a shot on goal that was stopped by Raider goalie Erikur Arnason but the rebound lay in front for Roy who made it a 6-3 game. Tony Palkki had the second assist on the goal.
Palkki then made it a 7-3 game when he fired a shot just inside the far post past the outstretched glove of Arnason. Kosak and Rendle assisted on the goal.
Tabaka earned the win in the nets for Grand Rapids finishing with 19 saves on 22 shots while Guyer was credited with the loss. Guyer stopped 15 of 20 shot attempts for the Raiders. Arnason came on in relief and recorded 16 saves on 18 shots.
The Raiders fall to 6-12-0 with the loss and took on the Duluth Central Trojans on Saturday.
The Thunderhawks improve to 10-7-1 with the victory and played host to the Anoka Tornadoes in a key Section 7AA matchup on Saturday afternoon.