Canadians lose to Grads in regular season finale

By: Daniel Vazzoler

The Carleton Place Canadians wrapped up their 2022-23 regular season on Sunday with a 3-2 loss at the Carleton Place Arena against the Navan Grads.

The Canadians fell behind 3-0 in the second period and a strong third period nearly resulted in them tying the game late. After Will Soloway scored late in the second period and Mathieu Fehr scored early in the third, the Canadians pushed for the tying goal in the final minute but just came up short.

“We deserved a point in that one and our group left with their head held high,” Canadians coach Brent Sullivan said. “It was a tough one, discipline was a factor in the second as our guys were getting frustrated with things out of their control. Ultimately, that period cost us the game.”

Sullivan and the rest of the Canadians can definitely feel they should have come away with at least a point on Sunday. With the extra attacker on the ice, Carleton Place got the puck down around the goal crease and got it past Robert Andreakos for what appeared to be the game-tying goal.

The apparent goal, however, ended up being disallowed as the officials said they were in the process of blowing the whistle to stop play before the puck crossed the goal-line.

That missed point played a critical role in the CCHL standings. Coming into Sunday, Carleton Place occupied the fourth-seed knowing a win would have kept it in that spot. Carleton Place was tied with the Brockville Braves and one point ahead of both the Hawkesbury Hawks and Renfrew Wolves.

As the afternoon played out, the Hawks won and the Wolves beat Brockville to move one point ahead of the Canadians – bumping them down to sixth. Had the game gone to over-time, Carleton Place would have retained home-ice advantage for the opening round against Hawkesbury. Instead, the Canadians wrapped up the season in sixth and have a first-round date with the Smiths Falls Bears.

“We’ve had some very hard games the last month or so. Our group has been in playoff mode for a while now, we’re excited” said Sullivan. “Now we move on and prepare for Smiths Falls.”

The Carleton Place fans appeared just as ready and excited with the playoffs right around the corner, too. Sunday’s crowd was one of the largest and loudest the Canadians have had all season, with 360 people in attendance to cheer on their team in its efforts to cap off the regular season.

“I’ve told these guys since Day One, CP is a special place to play,” expressed Sullivan. “The crowd was fantastic, we cannot wait to see what that crowd will be like for the playoffs in this rivalry.”

Prior to the game, Carleton Place honoured the six 20-year-olds on the roster who will be graduating from junior hockey at the completion of the season. Joe Chambers, Gino Colangelo, Derek Hamilton, Evan Jamieson, Cole McGuire and Brandon Walker were all presented their jersey framed in a pre-game celebration of their time as a Canadian thus far.

“This group was crucial to building the culture here in CP that we hope will last for years,” raved Sullivan of his group of veteran leaders. “They cannot be replaced and each of them has left a legacy that will be remembered in different ways. Special group, emotional coach. Our goal is to play together as long as we can for these guys.”

The quest to achieve that goal begins on Friday with Game One of the series against the Bears beginning in Smiths Falls before coming back to Carleton Place on Sunday.