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Canadians escape with win in first game of season

By: Daniel Vazzoler

After what looked like a game that should have been smooth sailing for the third period, the Carleton Place Canadians had to go to a shoot-out to pick up a 4-3 win over the Cornwall Colts on Thursday night.

Carleton Place had a two-goal lead heading into the final frame but a troublesome period created opportunities for the Colts to tie the game up.

“I feel like our habits were pretty bad. I thought we did a lot of things that we tried to get rid of from our first game in Wellington,” Canadians coach Brent Sullivan said following the game. “Our puck management was brutal, our discipline was brutal. We’ve got to thank (goalie) Joe Chambers and our power play.”

The Canadians entered the third period with a 3-1 lead, but a pair of misconduct penalties to defensemen put them short-handed for most of the frame. The group up front was down a man for nearly the entire game, when Jake Code had to leave early in the first period.

“That just takes away a guy who just does it right every shift and is able to be a guy who’s contagious in his play,” Sullivan said on the loss of his captain. “It didn’t help when we had the two misconducts to our defensemen. At the end of the day, that just depletes you.

“(But) when you’re not managing pucks well and your defensemen are constantly joining the rush and just not thinking the game the right way, teams claw back,” he continued.

With Reid Oliver and Troy Bowditch in the penalty box, Will German cut the deficit in half when he was left alone in front of the Canadians net and beat Chambers less than eight minutes into the period – giving the Colts momentum.

Then, before a stoppage in play could allow Oliver to return to play, Alex Fournier snapped one off the post and in to level the score with 6:23 left in regulation.

“We kind of let our foot off the gas,” assistant captain Ryan Bonfield said. “In between periods, we talked about keeping the game simple, playing hard and doing the things we have to do to win. But, I think we had a couple of breakdowns and that led to them getting goals.

A time-out called by Sullivan helped settle down his team for the remainder of the game in regulation – as did the play from Chambers.

“The guy stood on his head all game, we couldn’t have asked for more from our goaltender,” Bonfield said. “Joe is an unreal goalie, an unreal person and he deserved (the win) tonight.

“He’s very steady, very calm and he made saves at the right time when our guys were on our heels,” added Sullivan.

After the over-time period solved nothing, Chambers and Colts goalie Emile Savoie stole the spotlight during the shoot-out as the pair stopped the first five shooters each of them faced. Chambers stopped Cornwall’s Tristan Miron to open the sixth round of the shoot-out, opening the door for Devon Thibodeau to end the game.

“It was late but I was ready,” he said about getting his opportunity. “Whenever Sully calls on me, I’ll be ready to go. It was a good feeling to put it in the net but Joe stood on his head.”

“The guy’s got a lot of swagger and a lot of confidence,” Sullivan said, explaining his decision to use the defenseman in the shoot-out. “He’s a guy that I don’t think feels pressure, I think he’s got ice in his veins, and – in all honesty – he probably should have been higher up.”

A positive note for Carleton Place, beyond picking up the two points for the win, was the power play success. The Canadians went 2-for-3 on the man advantage with goals from Bill Gourgon and Caleb Kean to help build the lead in the first two periods.

The scoring started late in the first period with Emile Beliveau tallying the game’s first goal and the first of his CCHL career. Beliveau created a Colts turnover in the Cornwall zone before deking out the goalie for the goal.

Carleton Place has a couple of days to try and fix some of its mistakes before the next game – the home opener on Sunday against the Kemptville 73’s.

“We are our own worst enemy. We dig ourselves holes. When we play the right way, we’re able to maintain puck possession, we’re able to create high-end scoring chances and we give the opposition nothing,” Sullivan expressed. “When we play like the way we did, we do the exact opposite.”

“We got the two points and that’s what matters. Sunday we’ll be back and we’ll be better and we’re going to get the two points as well.”