By: Daniel Vazzoler
It’s safe to say the Carleton Place Canadians had a less than ideal performance on Sunday against the Hawkesbury Hawks, as evidenced by the 6-2 loss the Canadians were handed.
Outscored 6-0 at even strength, outshot in the third period – one where Carleton Place entered the frame trailing by a goal – and then an early goal against seemed to take the energy out of the team to try and muster a comeback.
All around, not a pretty picture. And head coach Brent Sullivan had no issues pointing that out.
“It was disgusting. I thought there were a lot of selfish plays, a lot of guys who care more about points and production and doing it the easy way rather than doing it the right way. I think we were flying by pucks all over the ice, no one finished a check. Everyone is hoping for the play to come to them. It’s not what we’ve preached for weeks, some guys in here just are not grasping this and they don’t seem to get it,” he said.
Things started well for Carleton Place, but the good start only carried them so far.
The power play, arguably the lone bright spot for the Canadians on Sunday, opened the scoring with Ryan Bonfield locating a loose puck in the slot and beating a sprawled-out Dimitri Pelekos just over two minutes into the game.
After that, three turnovers led to three unanswered goals for Hawkesbury.
Jakson Kirk leveled the score after picking off a pass to the middle of the ice and then wiring a shot over Joe Chambers’ shoulder in the final minute of the first period.
Early in the second period, former Canadian Mark Cooper blocked a shot from the blue-line and sprung William Gendron on a breakaway against Chambers. Gendron made no mistake on the opportunity and beat the Canadians goalie to give the Hawks a 2-1 lead 4:27 into the middle period.
Not long after that, a lost face-off in the offensive zone for the Canadians allowed Hawkesbury to make their way from their zone all the way down the ice and Jeremy Quesnel beat an outstretched Chambers on the rush a little more than a minute later on what ended up being the game-winning goal.
“Our 5-on-5 play is garbage,” Sullivan expressed. “From a defensive side of the game, from an offensive side of the game. Not only are we not defending well, we’re also not generating anything offensively. We’re relying way too much on some of our top guys to carry us. The line of (Caleb) Kean, Bill (Gourgon) and Bonfield, they’re counted on way too much at this point.”
Sullivan, though, said he still sees room for improvement for that line – along with the rest of the team – when it comes to following the message the coaching staff has laid out for the players.
“When you have shifts in games where you have (Emile) Beliveau, (Gino) Colangelo and (Ethan) Woolsey generating offensive zone time because they’re doing it the right way, doing it the hard way and guys don’t learn from it, watch and go implement it into their own game, it’s disappointing,” Sullivan explained.
For Canadians captain Jake Code, he voiced similar issues that led to the team’s downfall on Sunday.
“I don’t think it’s really X’s and O’s right now, I think it’s just caring and wanting to be here and competing every day and every night,” he said. “Just ultimately trying to outwork your opponent and worry about the shift ahead of you and nothing other than that.”
Carleton Place had no issues outworking the Hawks when on the power play, benefitting from having the extra player, as Kean made it a one-goal game before the second intermission with a power play tally.
Kirk made it 4-2 for Hawkesbury 1:30 into the third period and a tired group of Canadians couldn’t generate chances – only totalling three shots in the final 20 minutes – and stifled any hopes of a comeback.
“When you have guys not playing well, and you have guys suspended or hurt, and right now we’re at about five guys, you’re looking down the bench and you have to roll the same guys over and over again who are not playing well and are not doing what they should,” Sullivan said. “Even from a mental stand point, how can you let a guy know he’s not doing well, when the one thing we can control (as coaches) is ice and we can’t take that away because we don’t have any other options.”
With only four hold-overs from the last competitive season and a year of scrimmages, Code brought up the team being slow out of the gate could be attributed to that – but he’s not making excuses for him or for his team-mates for the lack of care in their play he pointed out.
“It’s difficult, but at the same time it shouldn’t be. I know after the year off it might be a little difficult to get back into a rhythm here but, this is a special place to play and if you take that for granted, it’s disappointing at times,” he elaborated. “I also understand it’s our job to lead and I know that personally I can be better, and I will be, and our group needs to be (better).”
Carleton Place has nearly a full week to try and prepare for a busy weekend as the CCHL has its showcase this upcoming weekend. The Canadians play Saturday, Sunday and Monday and face the Navan Grads, Pembroke Lumber Kings and Nepean Raiders respectively.
“Every day is a learning day, we’re starting from scratch as far as our fundamentals go, as far as our structure goes,” Sullivan said. “I understand the showcase is this weekend but, I care about the length of the year and how much time we have until March. We need to right this ship quick here and I’m not waiting until 25 games to change things, we need to change things right now.”