Cornwall Ontario – Ian Boots found the back of the net twice and the Cornwall Nationals toughed out a 5-3 victory over the Berlin River Drivers on Sunday afternoon at the Civic Complex in front of 938 fans.
It was a huge three points for the expansion Cornwall Nationals in a physical contest with the Federal Hockey League’s second-place River Drivers. The matinee featured hard hits and a rare five fights, including two goaltenders going toe-to-toe at centre ice.
JC Houde opened the scoring for the Cornwall Nationals at 4:46 of the first with a perfectly placed wrist shot that surprised Berlin goaltender Matt Kaludis.
Brent Clarke then set up MJ Graham for his 12th of the season on a pretty passing play that started with an outlet pass from Maxime Guyon. The highlight reel goal gave the Nationals at 2-0 lead at 12:12 of the first.
Dominik Synek cut Cornwall’s lead in half when he beat a sprawling Paul Bourbeau Jr. with 3:54 to play in the first. Synek added his second of the contest at 9:50 of the second to level the score at 2-2.
The Cornwall Nationals regained the lead when Lou Dickenson pounced on Guyon’s rebound at 13:23 of the second period. Then, with Cornwall on a powerplay, Boots’ one-timer with 3:17 to play in the middle frame fooled Kaludis and opened up a two-goal lead for the home team.
Boots of Akwesasne and Joel Trottier of Alexandria connected on the Nationals fifth goal at 7:03 of the third. Boots found a wide-open Trottier, who’s heavy blast bounced off Kaludis’ right pad right to Boots, who buried his second of the night into an empty net.
With 7:05 to play in the third, tempers flared and goaltenders Bourbeau Jr. and Kaludis met up at centre ice and dropped their trappers and blockers. Francis Dupuis finished the game in goal for the Nationals.
Yuto Osawa scored a powerplay goal with 1:34 to play in the contest to round out the scoring.
Berlin outshot Cornwall 35-34. Boots (first), Bourbeau Jr. (second) and Guyon were the announced stars.
In a special moment prior to puck drop, Peter Paiement of Open Hands Cornwall performed ‘Oh Canada’ on the red carpet.
The Cornwall Nationals are back in action Friday, February 3rd at Berlin. Cornwall is back on home ice Saturday, February 4th when the Danbury Titans visit the Civic Complex. Dan West of the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks will be in attendance with the Grey Cup. For more info visit the Nationals website.