No one said this weekend was going to be easy for the Carleton Place Canadians.
Three games in three days, with a pair against the top team in the CCHL, the Canadians were dealt a bad hand. Through two games though, they’ve played it better than some may have expected. The injury bug is still wreaking havoc on the Canadians line-up, preventing them from going with their full Jr A roster.
On Friday night against the Navan Grads, Carleton Place still had four call-up forwards in the line-up and used Jr B goalie Jackson Pundyk to start the game. The Grads occupy the seventh-seed in the CCHL, so it was a good opportunity for the Canadians to close the gap between them and Navan.
It wasn’t an ideal start for Carleton Place, as Navan took a 2-0 lead in the first 8:13 of the game. A power play goal by Matteo Disipio and another marker from Devin Pimm tied the game before the end of the opening period.
The offence continued into the second period, with the Grads getting three goals in the first 12 minutes of the frame and the Canadians responding with one of their own. Pundyk’s night ended after allowing the five goals on 20 shots in 31:41 of action.
Derek Hamilton tried to bring his team level with Navan, tallying a hat-trick in the later stages of the game. His goals weren’t enough though, as each goal he scored was followed by a Grads goal to keep the difference at two – including the empty-net goal from Devyn Orpana that made it an 8-6 final.
Saturday was another tough test for Carleton Place, as it faced the league-leading Ottawa Jr Senators on the road.
It would have been easy to think the game was going to be a blow-out, given the Jr Senators 8-4 and 4-1 wins over Carleton Place earlier in the year, but the young Canadians group more than held their own to ensure it was a close game right to the end.
Liam Goreski gave Carleton Place the lead late in the first period to send the Canadians into the first intermission ahead of Ottawa.
After Samuel Edwards tied the game early in the second period, Isaac Pascoal restored the Canadians advantage with a quick one-timer through the legs of Collin Mackenzie.
Two of the CCHL’s top scorers, Philippe Jacques and Simon Isabelle, showed their worth in the later stages of the game to help the Jr Senators pick up the victory.
Jacques tied the game at 2-2 with a power play goal before the end of the second period and then put Ottawa ahead with his second goal of the game near the midway point of the third period.
Pascoal levelled things at 3-3 just over two minutes later, but the tie was short-lived as Isabelle beat Joe Chambers with a snap shot from the slot, not giving Chambers a chance to react to the loose puck, for the game-winning tally.
Carleton Place wraps up the busy weekend with a rematch against Ottawa on Sunday afternoon, this time at the Carleton Place Arena. Each game grows more crucial now for the Canadians, who have a three-point lead over the ninth-place Rockland Nationals – but Carleton Place has played three more games than Rockland thus far.