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Canadians pick up crucial win late in the season

By: Daniel Vazzoler

The Carleton Place Canadians gained a much-needed pair of points in the standings on Monday with a 4-3 win against the Ottawa Jr Senators.

The win keeps the Canadians in a tie with the Brockville Braves for first place in the CCHL at 81 points with eight games remaining in the regular season – three of which are against the Braves.

“It’s huge for us, especially since we have a lot of teams right on our tails in the playoffs standings,” Canadians assistant captain Henry Enebak said about the win. “Coming into this week-end with three big games and coming out of it with three big wins is huge for us. That’s six points that we really needed and that will really show in the end.”

After leading twice in the game, the Canadians had to come from behind in the third period. Following a neutral-zone turnover, Kyle Jackson got past Brett Thorne and beat Connor Murphy with a quick shot low to the stick-side.

Thorne made amends for that play as he ended up tallying the game-winning goal with a wrist shot from the high slot, beating Francis Boisvert just over the goalie’s shoulder and sending his water bottle on the net up into the air.

“I got caught flat-footed, realized (Jackson’s goal) was on me and I just tried to do my best to get the team back in it and thankfully I put one in,” Thorne said.

“That was a tough play,” Canadians coach Jason Clarke added. “It was a bit of a turnover […] so it wasn’t a straight one-on-one. The great thing about it is, when the goal happened, he was pretty upset with himself, I think, but his next shift on the ice he created two or three really good opportunities.”

There was a lot of physical play between the two teams, with some of the animosity even carrying over to the coaching staffs. At the end of the first period, Clarke and Ottawa assistant coach Chris Kushneriuk could be seen having a verbal sparring match as they were leaving the bench, resulting in Kushneriuk receiving a gross misconduct penalty and Clarke taking a bench minor.

“[Monday’s] game really depicted a playoff game, so it was good that we were able to come out on top of such a close-checking game because we know (there’s a good chance) we’re going to see these guys in the playoffs,” said Thorne.

Enebak said he felt the physicality was a response to the last time Carleton Place and Ottawa played each other at the Carleton Place Arena, a 4-1 Jr Senators win back on Oct. 12. They played each other twice since that game, but the games were on a bigger ice surface at the Jim Durrell complex which makes playing a checking-style of hockey more difficult.

“They really played physical against us the last time they were here and we knew we were going to have to match that physicality. I think we did a really good job at that and it showed in the end,” he added.

Clarke looked to a different reason for the intensity of Monday’s game, citing the fact this had been the match-up for each of the last three Bogart Cups.

“It’s just two teams playing hard and that’s the way hockey should be played, to be honest with you,” Clarke continued. “I wish more games in our league were like that and it was a good hockey game today.”

With that level of physical play, the power plays were given multiple opportunities to be put on display. Ottawa managed to go 1-for-5, with its lone power play goal coming on the 5-on-3 to start the second period caused by Clarke’s bench minor. Carleton Place took advantage of its chances up a man, converting three of its seven power plays – including getting the tying and game-winning goals on the power play.

“I thought Ottawa did a very good job against us in the neutral zone in really clogging up the middle when we were on the power play,” expressed Clarke. “They gave us a hard time on getting entries to the zone, but once we got set up I thought we did a good job of finding the openings and guys without the puck were moving their feet to get into open areas where they know they can get second and third chances.

“Two of the three goals we scored were guys just moving their feet without the puck and getting to those areas to get the extra chances, and that’s what happened,” added Clarke.

After a busy week-end of three games in four days, Carleton Place now has the remainder of the week to prepare for another week-end of important games. They start with a road game on Friday against the fifth-place Rockland Nationals, who are just two points out of third place and getting home-ice for the first round.

Then it is the first of three games left against the Braves, as Brockville makes the trip to the Carleton Place Arena on Sunday afternoon, With Brockville having one game in hand over Carleton Place, those three games will likely be the deciding factor as to who claims first place in the CCHL.