By: Daniel Vazzoler
After suffering a 2-1 loss to the Brockville Braves on Friday, the Carleton Place Canadians responded to wrap up the home-and-home series on Sunday with a 6-3 win in Carleton Place.
Thomas Dickey’s three-point afternoon aided the Canadians to get the win against a Braves team that had won its last five games heading into Sunday. Bill Gourgon, Will Soloway and Owen Brady each had multi-point games as well, while Jackson Pundyk stopped 24 of 27 shots he faced.
The start wasn’t what the Canadians wanted, falling behind just over seven minutes into the game as Spencer Stanutz caught Pundyk leaning to his left – cheating to protect the pass on a two-on-one rush – and beat the Canadians goalie with a wrist shot to the near post.
Carleton Place, though, didn’t let that goal affect them.
Dickey responded with his first goal of the game less than two minutes later to tie the game. Gourgon gave the Canadians the lead a few moments later before Aidan Cooper capped off a strong first period with his goal, beating Sami Molu low stick-side with a shot off the post and in.
“I thought just overall emotion and energy, we were really good in the first,” Canadians coach Brent Sullivan said. “Regardless of them scoring first, we have a lot of belief in our group … From September, I’ve said we’ve got a bunch of character kids that can play, that are resilient and can deal with adversity.”
The momentum from a strong opening period rolled into the second frame for Carleton Place.
Matteo Disipio chased Molu from the game with his 30th goal of the season, forcing the Braves to turn to Philip Rondina after their starter allowed four goals on 16 shots against.
The change spurred the Canadians on more than it helped Brockville, with the Canadians peppering the opposing net with 19 more shots in the period – one of which being Dickey’s second goal of the game.
Dickey’s season has been a roller coaster of emotions thus far. To start the season he and, fellow youngster, Dylan Pollock formed quite the duo as part of a productive fourth-line for Carleton Place and had him producing points to put him near the top of the rookie scoring lead early on.
The production has since cooled off, with Sunday’s game being his first back on the scoresheet since Dec. 6, but the hope is Sunday is more the norm for the 16-year-old.
“Once we started to make some depth adds, it kind of decreased his minutes a little bit,” said Sullivan. “I know that it ate at him, so for him to be able to get that beautiful first (goal) and that second one, just making a really nice read and overall getting three points is just huge for his confidence.”
Brockville pushed back early in the third period to put the pressure back on Carleton Place the rest of the way. An unsuccessful Canadians power play gave the Braves some momentum which quickly turned into a Kyle Powers goal.
Shortly after the goal, a Disipio penalty earned a joking cheer from his team-mates as he took his first penalty of the season.
Those cheers were silenced by Lucas Culhane scoring on the ensuing man-advantage and the focus had to be reined in for the remaining 15:01 in the third period.
“There was no panic on the bench,” expressed Sullivan. “We talked about not wanting to use the time-out, we wanted to be able to keep our lines rolling. We then had a couple of really good shifts where we kept the puck in their end and just defend well. You’ve obviously got to tip your cap to Jackson Pundyk, too. He made some massive saves down the stretch.”
Pundyk made 10 of his 24 saves in the final period to help preserve the win, including a pair of high-difficulty saves late in the game to maintain the two-goal lead before Soloway sealed the victory with a 200-foot shot into the empty net in the final minute.
The win helped Carleton Place keep pace with the teams around them in the standings, remaining one-point back of the Smiths Falls Bears and closing in on the Hawkesbury Hawks – whose loss on Sunday puts them in a tie with the Bears for third-place.
The Canadians have a chance to leap-frog both of them on Tuesday when the Nepean Raiders pay a visit to the Carleton Place Arena.