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Canadians newcomers shine despite loss to Kemptville

By: Daniel Vazzoler

After a blockbuster trade earlier in the week, the Carleton Place Canadians began their stretch of retooling on Friday with a 5-3 loss to the Kemptville 73’s.

With Caleb Kean and Ryan Bonfield being shipped off to the Brockville Braves, the trio of Jackson Hay, Marco Iozzo and Liam Goreski the Canadians received in return made their debuts for Carleton Place. If the first game is any indication of them, the Canadians could be set well moving forward.

Jake Code provided the spark to the Carleton Place offence with a pair of goals, and newly-named assistant captain Devon Thibodeau had two assists in his first game wearing a letter. Goreski added a goal and assist, while Hay tallied an assist on the Goreski goal for his first point in a Canadians jersey.

“We wanted to bring more pace. The reason I did this trade is I think we need to be a deeper team, a faster team,” said Canadians head coach Brent Sullivan. “I thought Goreski was really good as far as being able to push pace. Marco is a real crafty kid, I thought he was maybe struggling a little bit (Friday) but I know he’s got it in him. Hay is an absolute stud, so he’ll be a huge pick-up for us. Christian Berini brings a unique, just crafty skill level, so he was able to compliment Bill (Gourgon) and Code well.”

Despite the strong play of the new additions and some of members from the start of the season, others “just didn’t bring it (Friday). Those guys need to be better, and they know who they are,” Sullivan added.

The Canadians entered the third period trailing the 73’s 3-2. Kemptville scored a pair of goals late in the second period to take the lead, and the momentum carried into the final frame as Nathan Merrett weaved through the Canadians before his wrist shot from the high slot beat Joe Chambers to take a 4-2 lead.

Code’s second goal of the game made it 4-3 with less than two minutes to play in the third period, but an empty net goal from Hunter Brazier sealed the victory with 0:30 remaining.

“We were a short-handed group, there’s no denying that, so the legs probably gave away there at the end,” Sullivan said. “At the end of the day, penalty killing was something that’s been a huge positive for us the past month, but we had soft plays and not really aware in this one.”

Four of the first five goals in the game were power play goals – each team scoring two on Friday night. The officials held a tight, but consistent, standard for penalties throughout the game.

“We’ve been talking about composure since Day One. Hockey is an emotional game, then you combine that with a year of bottled-up emotions. I think guys are on edge, very emotional,” Sullivan expressed. “We were better (Friday), but it was a tight game in terms of what was being called. Regardless, we’ve gone 8-for-8 for penalty kills before and we needed to be better.”

The Canadians – on a rare occasion – lost the special teams battle to the 73’s. Kemptville scored on two of the five power play chances they had while limiting the Canadians to a 2-for-7 night on the man advantage – including killing off three Canadians power plays in the third period when Carleton Place had a chance to comeback in the game.

“We had looks, we had great opportunities still, even on the 6-on-5 situation where we were able to get one,” Sullivan said. “I think there were a lot of positives from the power play, and a lot of new faces (on the power play). Let’s call a spade a spade, Caleb Kean and Ryan Bonfield were big parts of Unit One, so for our power play to still get two goals, obviously give a lot of credit to the guys that were on it.”

Next up, the Canadians go against the two veterans they traded as Bonfield, Kean and the Brockville Braves make the trip to the Carleton Place Arena on Sunday afternoon.