Fredericton Red Wings bent, but they didn’t break Saturday night.
The Red Wings held a 3-0 lead late in the second period only to watch Grand Falls score two straight before Fredericton put the visiting and stubborn Rapids away, eventually posting a 5-2 Maritime Hockey League win at the Grant*Harvey Centre.
Fredericton improved to 15-10-1-0 and 31 points, firmly entrenched in third place in the EastLink North Division.
Aiden MacIntosh paced Fredericton with two goals. Evan White, Eliot Bergbauer and Brady Patterson, the latter into an empty net, scored the others.
Matthew MacKay and Shon-Olivier Roy tallied for Grand Falls, which fell to 10-14-2-1 and fifth in the North Division.
Jack Grant made 32 stops for the win in the Fredericton crease.
Tyriq Outen faced 26 Fredericton bids.
Roy’s goal early in the third period cut the deficit to 3-2 for Grand Falls and the Rapids pushed hard for the equalizer, forcing Fredericton head coach Brian Casey to call a timeout.
It seemed to settle the Red Wings down and they were rewarded when MacIntosh hammered home his second – fourth of the season – with 6:04 left in the game.
Patterson sealed the deal with his sixth at 19:26.
Both teams went to work offensively in the middle frame as the Red Wings would grab a 3-0 lead at one point.
Ahead 1-0 and during a four-on-four, White surprised everyone in the building when he used Grand Falls’ defenceman Denis Toner as a screen and hammered a snapshot up high past Outen for a 2-0 lead with 6:28 to play.
That kick-started an offensive surge as Bergbauer rung his 11th of the year off the left post on a Fredericton powerplay.
And just when it appeared the hosts were going to the dressing room up three, MacKay changed all of that when he blasted a slapshot past Grant with 42 seconds left.
It was MacKay’s seventh of the year.
Outen had kept things scoreless with a huge left pad save on Liam Smith with about eight minutes left in the opening frame and he then denied a breakaway by Adam Zimmerman moments later on a lovely feed from defenceman, Jared Cosman.
Still, Outen couldn’t keep Fredericton off the board when the Red Wings struck, compliments of MacIntosh’s third of the year late in the opener.
Solid forechecking by Nathan Kelly and Ethan Stuckless had Fredericton in offensive business, the puck finding MacIntosh in the left faceoff circle. His snapshot caught a piece of Outen, but skipped into the top corner for the game’s first goal.