By: Daniel Vazzoler
Sunday marked the first game back from the holiday break for the Carleton Place Canadians and, despite a slow start, they picked up a 3-2 win over the Rockland Nationals in the Canadians return to CCHL action.
A number of Canadians turnovers kept the game close in the opening 20 minutes before the offences exploded in the second period with Carleton Place jumping out to a 2-0 lead early in the first two minutes of the period before the Nationals tied things up midway through the frame.
Devon Levi stopped 30 of 32 shots he faced in the game, but his most important work came in the first period – where he stopped all 13 shots and allowed his team-mates to get their feel for the game back.
“In the first few minutes I got some shots (against) I don’t normally get and I love that actually,” said the Canadians goalie. “I love facing those tough chances and they sort of slowed down as the game went on and the boys got their momentum and confidence back they had before the break.”
“He’s always outstanding and very, very consistent,” captain Elliott McDermott said about Levi. “We can always count on him and he makes the save when it counts. It’s awesome having him back there.”
Carleton Place got its momentum early in the second period with goals from Brett Thorne and Cameron Patton just 0:55 apart.
Thorne scored on the power play, snapping a shot over the right shoulder of Cole Hudson and just inside the post for the 1-0 advantage.
The second Canadians goal was a picture-perfect play to set Patton up on the tic-tac-toe goal. Andrej Hromic fell down close to the Rockland zone and a Nationals turnover and a long Canadians stretch pass sent him in on the attack. He had Ryland Mosley and Patton with him, and Hromic used his team-mates on the rush. A drop pass to Mosley and a cross-crease pass to Patton put Hudson on his stomach and left him little chance to make the save.
Goals from Cole Craft and Vincent Labelle tied the game in the second period, but a late goal by Kerfalla Toure ended the Nationals come-back hopes for the win as he scored with less than five minutes to play in the game.
The Canadians success on the special teams, especially the penalty kill, played a big role in the win on Sunday. The power play went 1-for-2 in the game while the penalty killers were a perfect 5-for-5.
“Our penalty kill before the break wasn’t too great,” McDermott said. “It wasn’t where we want it to be and we’ve been working on it in practice and I thought we did an awesome job [Sunday] which is a testament to the effort we put into it.”
Canadians coach Jason Clarke said the penalty-killing success can be attributed to players paying more attention to details and the effort put in to taking away shooting opportunities.
“I thought guys got in to a lot of shooting lanes, I mean take a look at Jake Code when blocked a pretty tough shot and took one of the arm there. I think we had seven or eight blocked shots on the ‘P.K.’ and that’s a really big part of penalty killing.
“I also really liked how we jumped on top of some of their plays.” Clarke added. “We did a really good job of sticking with it and sealing the wall in some situations. I thought our reading and reacting to their power play was outstanding.”
Carleton Place will look to continue the momentum into a busy week-end with three games in four days, starting with a road game on Thursday against the Kanata Lasers.