By: Daniel Vazzoler
Monday’s 6-3 win on Monday by the Carleton Place Canadians over the Smiths Falls Bears meant the Canadians will finish atop the CCHL regular season standings for a seventh season in a row.
Buoyed by a strong special teams performance, the Canadians made the nearly full Carleton Place Arena leave the Family Day affair in high spirits – not only because of the win, but in also knowing their team will have home ice advantage throughout the entire playoffs.
“We talk every day about what it means to be a Carleton Place Canadian and the standards we have,” Canadians coach Jason Clarke about a seventh regular season title in 11 years. “Oddly enough, we don’t talk too much about wins and losses in our organization. We talk about our standard of play and how we need to push the bar all the time.”
Part of pushing the level of expectations higher and higher is having players develop into upper-echelon talent in the CCHL.
One such player is Brett Thorne, who notched his first career hat-trick in the win over Smiths Falls and continues to build upon his record-setting season in Carleton Place. His 23 goals, 45 assists and 68 points this season are all the most by a Canadians defenceman in a single season. Thorne’s career totals (40G, 107A, 147pts) are also the most among Carleton Place blue-liners.
While his on-ice development has been impressive in Thorne’s three years in Carleton Place, his coach views his off-ice development as the biggest success.
“The biggest thing for Brett has been his maturity. Just his maturity away from the rink, how he treats his body, how he works out and how he does things away from the rink is a lot different from when he got here three years ago. That’s a testament to our leadership group with the culture that’s been set here from all the players, but also our strength and conditioning coach, Chris Burgess, pushing Brett all the time.
“It’s pretty simple, life or hockey, whatever you put into it is what you’re going to get out of it and Brett Thorne has really changed his habits over the last couple of years and everything he’s gotten this year he totally deserves,” continued Clarke.
The Canadians were coming off an over-time loss to the Hawkesbury Hawks on Sunday but it took all of 34 seconds for them to put the loss behind them and jump in front of Smiths Falls, courtesy of Reece Bolton finishing off the passing play between he, Ryland Mosley and Cameron Patton.
“We talked about how we played on Sunday and some of the things we really needed to execute in order to get a better result on Monday, and I think we did that really well,” Clarke said. “In the first 10 minutes, we were making the short, easy support pass and not trying to complicate things. We didn’t turn a lot of pucks over and because of that we were able to get a lot of easy entries and create scoring chances.”
With just five games left in the season, the next milestone marker for the team is tallying a 100-point season. Carleton Place sits just six points back of that goal, which would be the fifth time the Canadians would reach that mark.
Up next for Carleton Place is a trip to face the Rockland Nationals on Friday before a home game on Sunday when the Nepean Raiders pay a visit to the Carleton Place Arena.