By: Daniel Vazzoler
The Carleton Place Canadians faced a tough test on Wednesday when they travelled to face the Ottawa Jr Senators, but they surpassed the challenge with a 3-2 win in over-time.
Neither team cracked the scoreboard in the first 40 minutes of action but the fans at the Fred Barrett Arena were treated to a wild finish. Owen Rainey and Brandon Walker scored for the Canadians to give them a 2-0 lead before the Jr Senators stormed back in the last half of the period to level the score.
All of which led to Derek Hamilton continuing his scorching-hot season by netting the over-time winner and capping of his ninth multi-point game of the campaign.
“We challenged the guys to bring their emotional best (Wednesday),” said Canadians head coach Brent Sullivan. “Invest everything into this game and have a playoff mentality. You could feel the energy of the group on the bench before the puck even dropped.”
That intensity allowed the Canadians to keep pace, and at times dictate the pace, with the CCHL’s top team. Carleton Place outshot Ottawa 11-9 in the opening frame and shots after two periods favoured Ottawa 22-20 but neither team could find a way to beat the opposing netminder as Jackson Pundyk and Rorke Applebee stopped everything they faced.
It took until the first minute of the third period for the game’s first goal, a power play marker off a face-off play finished by Rainey to put the Canadians in front first. Walker added a second power play goal less than two minutes later to double the advantage.
“To bury two power play goals on the best penalty kill in the league and win the special teams battle was massive,” said Sullivan. “A lot of detail went into this prep to make that happen.”
Carleton Place followed the plan to near perfection. The Canadians went 2-for-3 on their power plays and limited Ottawa to one goal on the three power play opportunities it had.
Vincent Velocci scored the power play goal to bring the deficit to one, a lead the Canadians held onto until the final minute of the game. Anton Sorensen tied the game with exactly one minute remaining in regulation, the puck deflecting off Hamilton before going past Pundyk.
The Canadians hadn’t won any of the previous three meetings against the Jr Senators but that didn’t prevent them from playing a strong performance on Wednesday.
“I said it to them going into over-time, ‘you need to believe that you can not only play with them but you can beat them,’” Sullivan expressed. “It’s the respect not fear approach that we need to have. Play smart, play safe but go at these guys and try to dictate the outcome.”
Hamilton and the Canadians did just that.
It took all of 19 seconds for Hamilton to net the game-winning goal and send the Canadians back home feeling high after a win that may not have been expected by anyone outside of the room.
“We feel we can play with anyone in this league,” Sullivan stated. “When we bring our best, we play line after line, shift after shift competitively and out-skate teams.”
The win puts Carleton Place in fourth in the CCHL, currently meaning it would have home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs. The next game is against a potential first-round opponent with the Hawkesbury Hawks coming to the Carleton Place Arena on Sunday. The crucial factor will be making sure the emotional high of the win against Ottawa.
“It’s nice to have a few days off in between to let emotions settle,” Sullivan expressed. “Big few days of practice to prepare for a four-point game against Hawkesbury.”