By: Daniel Vazzoler
You can’t win them all if you don’t win your first.
The Carleton Place Canadians are one of six CCHL teams who have a chance at winning all of their games this season after picking up a 2-1 victory over the Hawkesbury Hawks on Saturday as part of the CCHL’s opening weekend at the Bell Sensplex in Kanata, Ont.
“It always feels good to get the first win under your belt,” Canadians coach Jason Clarke said. “Gets the boys kind of excited and fired up. Hopefully we can come out tomorrow with a good effort.”
Neither team scored in the opening period and struggled with discipline in the early going. Carleton Place and Hawkesbury each took three minor penalties in the first period, and combined for 0/12 on the power play throughout the game.
Clarke credited the veteran presence on the penalty-killing units for the success Carleton Place had while short handed. Canadians captain Geoff Kitt said the success came more from teams not having a chance to work on their power play.
“They weren’t going to be too crisp, so we thought we’d force them hard and get on them on the forecheck,” he said. “Once that first guy was on them, we’d throw that second guy in on them. We just gave them no time to make plays.”
Early in the second period, it was the overtime-hero from last year’s Bogart Cup championship who opened the scoring as Zach Tupker took the pass from Cade Townend and snapped a shot past Matthew Petizian’s glove, sending the puck off the post and into the net.
The lead was short-lived however as Matt Gasuik tied the game, grabbing the rebound off the odd-man rush chance for Hawkesbury, 5:08 after Tupker’s goal. That goal ended up being the only blemish on an otherwise perfect game, as described by Clarke, from Jeremie Forget.
Ben Tupker claimed the game-winning goal Saturday evening beating Petizian on the blocker side with a quick wrist shot.
According to Clarke, he said his team had numerous opportunities to add to their goal total in this game.
“I thought we generated a lot of offence, we just need to start hitting the net. We had, I think, 17 missed shots. We’ve got to stop trying to go high-glove all the time and just get pucks on net and hope for the best. Start firing pucks three or four feet over the net and you’re not going to generate much (scoring) out of that.”
Forget’s play in the Carleton Place net ensured that the Canadians didn’t need to get more than two goals. Late in the third period, as Hawkesbury was pushing for the tying goal, Forget made a number of crucial and athletic saves – sliding post-to-post and fighting through traffic in front on a handful of occasions – to preserve the 2-1 victory.
“I know it was a close game [and] when your team’s not playing great, it’s always important that your goalie plays even better. I just wanted to make sure we got the first win and start off the season on a good foot,” Forget said.
Even with the win, Kitt said there were a few areas of their team game that the Canadians can improve on moving forward.
“We lost our guys in the defensive zone a little bit, for sure, and we were just getting a little bit selfish in the second period. We had some extended shifts, which tired us out and a couple of penalties about 180 feet from our own end. We’ve got to get rid of those and we should be fine,” he pointed out.
Carleton Place continues their opening weekend as part of the league’s Labour Day Showcase Weekend at the Bell Sensplex to start the season on Sunday when they play as the home team against the Cornwall Colts at 4:45 p.m.