By: Daniel Vazzoler
The first period has been a struggle for the Carleton Place Canadians, and it was again on Sunday as they fell to the Pembroke Lumber Kings 4-3 in a shoot-out.
After a comeback victory the night before, and signs of playing the way coaching staff say they want the team to play, the hopes were there for a better start against Pembroke. Instead, the Canadians fell behind 2-0 less than 10 minutes into the game.
“I felt like we were timid, that we were on our heels and allowing them to dictate play,” Canadians coach Brent Sullivan said. “We just didn’t look like we had any confidence, which is a disappointing trait to see because our starts have been consistently bad. That was a message at the end of the game, that we need to address that.”
A look at the numbers doesn’t look bad, as the Canadians had only been outscored 7-5 by opponents in the first period, but the shots tell the story of the sluggish starts. Coming into Sunday, Carleton Place had been outshot 78-51 in the first periods of their previous six games.
“It’s just understanding that teams want to play us hard, they want to beat us up,” assistant captain Caleb Kean said. “We have to understand that, if we come out and move our feet, they can’t touch us. I don’t know how many games it’s going to take, but we’ve got to figure it out.”
Similar to Saturday when the Canadians erased a two-goal deficit, the power play sparked the comeback for Carleton Place.
Kean and Reid Oliver scored power play goals around a Lumber Kings goal to have Carleton Place trailing by a goal going to the third period.
“Special teams are a massive part of our game, I think they win and lose the game and right now ours are clicking,” Sullivan said.
There’s a noticeable difference in the way the Canadians play during special teams situations versus at even strength. But, the second half of Sunday’s game showed steps in the right direction to keeping the intensity in all situations.
“When we’re on the power play, there’s lots of urgency to get the puck and make plays,” Kean explained. “We’ve got to have that same urgency at five-on-five. We’re going to create chances that way. We’re capitalizing on the power play, we just need to do a good job of translating that to five-on-five.”
“I thought we did a good job in the second and third (periods),” added Sullivan. “I feel like it’s starting to come. When our guys’ habits are good, we were hanging onto pucks better, we weren’t throwing pucks away and our forecheck continues to generate a lot for us. It’ll come, I just need the belief from the room in our structure.”
Bill Gourgon scored the lone even-strength goal for Carleton Place 8:09 into the third period to tie the game and, ultimately, send it to over-time.
The Canadians had to overcome a late penalty in over-time before going into a shoot-out where Brady Egan scored the lone goal to give Pembroke the victory.
The Showcase weekend wraps up for the Canadians on Monday with a game against the Nepean Raiders. With the game Sunday going the full distance, and Monday being the third game in three days, recovery is going to be key for Carleton Place to get ready for the game.
“We are a well-conditioned team,” said Sullivan. “We invest a lot throughout the week into our training and just our overall conditioning for the pace we want to play at. Now, from a coaching standpoint, we’ll obviously have to manage some shift length and manage special teams. I think discipline will be a factor because penalty killing rolls the same guys over and over.”
“We need to have a good start (Monday) if we’re going to have success, that’s something I know the leadership group is going to put some pride in,” Kean said.