The Nationals powered their way to a 7-5 victory over the North Shore Knights on Sunday night in Federal Hockey League action at the Civic Complex, extending the Cornwall professional hockey team's home-ice unbeaten record.
Captain Ahmed Mahfouz had a hat trick and added four assists as the first-place Nationals improved to 5-1-0-1. Cornwall is now a perfect 3-0 on home ice this season.
With the Nationals on a power play, Maxime Guyon found a wide-open Eric Witzel at the side of the net for a tap-in goal 7:16 into the contest, to open the scoring. But, some sloppy play and a turnover at the blueline resulted in a North Shore marker with 2:08 to play in the first. Vito Scaringi eventually tipped a shot from the point past a helpless Brandon Billie, who was making his first start of the season for Cornwall.
Mahfouz then out-waited North Shore goaltender Christian Pavlas and found a wide-open Guyon, who made it 2-1 for Cornwall, only 59 seconds into the second period. The Knights levelled the score 68 seconds later, however, as Josh Newberg tucked a backhander past Billie.
Justin Portillo gave the Nationals a 3-2 lead at 6:24 of the middle frame.
With Cornwall on the power play, Mahfouz did all the work and found Portillo, who buried a wrist shot into an empty net.
With 5:33 to go in the second and the Nationals on another power play, Mahfouz gave Cornwall a two-goal lead with a nifty backhander from a tough angle.
Radoslav Konecny beat a sprawling Billie with 34.9 seconds to play in the second to cut the margin.
Sylvester Bzdyl was the next recipient of a slick Mahfouz pass, as he gave the Nationals a 5-3 lead three minutes into the third. North Shore fought right back, however, with a perfectly placed wrist shot by Marvin Powell.
Mahfouz then threw the puck toward the net and got a lucky bounce off a North Shore defenceman’s leg to give the Nationals a 6-4 lead with 9:02 to play in the third. It was Cornwall’s fourth power play of the game.
Newberg brought North Shore back to within a goal with 6:59 remaining on the clock.
But the captain completed the hat trick by finishing off a perfect tic-tac-toe play with Guyon, with 1:10 to play in the game.
Cornwall outshot North Shore 43-29 on the night. Mahfouz (first), Guyon (second), and Witzel were the announced stars. The attendance was 649.
The Nationals travelled to Port Huron, Mich., for a pair of games against the Prowlers. On Friday night, Cornwall sustained its first loss of the season in regulation, 6-2. Brandon Gilmour and Guyon had the Nationals markers, while Yianni Liarakos and Dalton Jay led the Port Huron offence with a pair of goals each.
On Saturday, Witzel scored twice to lead Cornwall to a 3-2 victory. Guyon added his fifth of the season, while Sebastien Dube-Rochon stopped 29-of-31 shots to earn the win in goal.
– files from Rodney Wilson