Things might have appeared bleak for the Carleton Place Canadians after going winless in their first two games at the 2017 Fred Page Cup, but wins in their third round-robin game and Saturday’s semi-final game puts the Canadians in Sunday’s final against the host Terrebonne Cobras.
Carleton Place beat Collège Français de Longueuil 2-0 in the semi-final match-up, getting the better of the QJHL runner-up after losing 2-1 in a shootout in the first meeting. Connor Hill and Alex Friesen both beat Stefano Cantali with laser-like wrist shots over the goaltender’s shoulder, while Connor Hughes continued his bounce-back play to pick up the shutout.
“I thought it was a great game from start to finish,” Jason Clarke, Canadians coach, said. “It’s the best game we’ve played so far since we’ve been at the tournament. We had all 20 guys show up and great goaltending. Forwards played well, defence played well, it was just a great, great effort overall.”
The two teams played a scoreless first period, despite trading a pair of power play opportunities each.
A Longueuil turnover midway through the second period set up Hill as he grabbed the loose puck in the attacking zone on the left-wing side of the ice, behind the defence, and rifled a shot over Cantali’s glove side shoulder.
Friesen added to the lead early in the third period with a shot that was a mirror image to Hill’s – Friesen took the pass from Connor Merkley on the right-wing side and beat Cantali right next to his ear with a lightning fast wrist shot on the short side, getting the puck past Cantali’s blocker and shoulder.
The Fred Page Cup can be a gruelling tournament to get through, and Carleton Place will have to face the full force of its strength for the first time if they wish to lift the trophy for a fourth consecutive time. Their three previous times at the event, Carleton Place has had the benefit of resting on semi-final Saturday thanks to being the top team throughout the round robin.
This year, the Canadians finished third in the preliminary round of the tournament and will have to play every day of the competition.
“Five games in five days is going to be a tall task against a really skilled and fast team like Terrebonne, but it’s just a one-game tournament. [Sunday’s] going to be all about pride, character, desperation and trying to get every ounce out of every guy we can in order to win the Fred Page Cup,” Clarke stated.
Sunday’s final could be slightly more difficult as Longueuil started getting physical against the Canadians and Carleton Place got banged up by the end of the game, but Clarke said he expects the players who played on Saturday will be in the lineup in the finals.
The Canadians will be looking to recreate the start they had against the Cobras in their round robin game where the Canadians had a 6-2 lead halfway through the game before Terrebonne ended up winning the game 8-7 in a shootout.
The winner of Sunday’s meeting will determine who gets to represent Eastern Canada at the RBC Cup May 13-21 in Cobourg, Ont. for the chance to be crowned national Jr. A champions.
The finals take place at 3 p.m. at the Cité du sport in Terrebonne, Que.
Tournament honours handed out in the morning
The Fred Page Cup awards banquet was held Saturday morning where players received honours for their performance in the round robin part of the tournament.
The Carleton Place Canadians had one player leave with an award as Tim Theocharidis was named to the tournament all-star team as one of the two defencemen. The rest of the team was made up by a pair of Longueuil players and a trio of Cobras. Canatali was named as the goaltender on the team and received top goaltender honours as well. Loïc Léveillé from Terrebonne was the other defenceman named an all-star and also took home the top defenceman award. Longueuil’s Vincent Chapleau, along with Terrebonne’s William Gignac and Chad Pietroniro, who was top forward, were the forwards named to the all-star squad of the event. Léveillé was also named tournament MVP.