By: Daniel Vazzoler
Make no mistake, Thursday’s 6-5 shoot-out victory over the Cornwall Colts was more like finger-painting than a work of art but, for the Carleton Place Canadians, the important part is they left with two points.
Coming off a disappointing performance on Monday against the Hawkesbury Hawks, the Canadians needed to bounce back into the win column with a busy stretch of seven games in 11 games starting against the Colts.
Having the game not go to a shoot-out, let alone over-time, would have been ideal from a rest perspective. Instead, Carleton Place needed to go the full distance, have a long trip back home and one day to review the win and prep for the next game.
“The power play came up big for us,” Canadians head coach Brent Sullivan said. “There were some small details we missed they cashed in on against us 5-on-5 that we’ve cleaned up in video. One bad bounce on one of their power play goals and one bad read. It was a weird game but happy to leave with two points against a team that has gotten points in seven straight now.”
As Sullivan said, Cornwall’s hot run of late has put them right into the thick of the play-off race. The Canadians faced a desperate team on Thursday, and it showed with the Colts ability to fight back throughout the game.
But the Canadians did a good job of matching their desperation as they are in a dog-fight themselves for play-off positioning. Carleton Place, Hawkesbury and the Renfrew Wolves have all been trading the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place seeds throughout January in a battle to get home-ice advantage in the first round.
When the play-offs come around, teams will be hoping to have a balanced offensive attack – something the Canadians displayed with five different goal scorers and all four lines chipping in on Thursday.
“A balanced attack is huge for play-offs,” Sullivan expressed. “The depth battle is usually won by your bottom six as top lines will cancel out at times. We’ve tried all year to create a balanced group from top to bottom.”
The scoring started early on, with the Colts getting in front just 0:33 into the game.
The Canadians responded with two goals less than two minutes apart.
Caton Ryan scored the first of two Canadians power play goals with a wrist shot he wired past Cameron Hollands. After his first one-timer was blocked, Ryan was set up with a second chance and, with the Colts defender stung and not applying pressure right away, he walked in and picked his spot over the glove-side shoulder to tie the game.
Mathieu Fehr has been one of the Canadians more consistent players this past month. His efforts hadn’t always been rewarded on the scoreboard, but they were on Thursday. After gathering the loose puck at centre-ice, Fehr came in one-on-one against the Colts defender. The defenceman stick-checked Fehr as we released the shot, causing the puck to loop up-and-over Hollands into the net and give the Canadians their first lead of the game less than five minutes into it.
Cornwall responded with a pair of goals in quick succession themselves early in the second period before Matteo Disipio and Brandon Walker scored back-to-back for Carleton Place to restore its one-goal advantage past the midway mark of the frame.
Cole McGuire hit Disipio with a long stretch-pass and he burned past the defender before beating Hollands with a move to the backhand and sliding it past the Colts goaltender.
Walker struck on the man advantage and, similar to Ryan’s goal, it was with a well-placed wrist shot. The difference being Walker opted to beat Hollands high on the blocker-side, just under the cross-bar.
The Canadians couldn’t hold onto the lead to end the period, as the Colts tied things up late in the second.
Will Bouwer tallied his first goal of the season as he tipped the Noah Kinlock-Varga pass through Hollands’ legs to once again put the Canadians in front. The lead, though, was short-lived as Cornwall leveled the score less than six minutes later.
The shoot-out was just as eventful and back-and-forth as it took seven rounds of shooters before Will Soloway notched the game-winner.
“You’re going to have games like this, it happens in all sports” Sullivan said of his team’s performance. “But, good teams find a way to win, get on the bus and get back at it the next day. We focused on our energy (Friday) in practice to prepare for a massive game against OJS.”
The league-leading Ottawa Jr Senators will not be a happy bunch for the game on Saturday. The Canadians won the last meeting between these two teams and Ottawa blew a 3-1 lead against the Brockville Braves to end up losing 5-3. Both are things Sullivan pointed out as reasons to expect Ottawa to be at its best.
“If you want to win in this league, you need to go through OJS. We’re not backing down, we’re not going to sit on our heels and we’re going to go right at them,” he continued.
After Saturday, the Canadians will return home for a pair of games. The first being Sunday against the Kemptville 73’s before hosting the Pembroke Lumber Kings on Tuesday.