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Canadians struggle to finish chances in Game One loss

By: Daniel Vazzoler

The Carleton Place Canadians had more than their fair-share of chances to score in Sunday’s Game One of the Bogart Cup Finals, but they couldn’t convert enough to beat the Ottawa Jr Senators who claimed the 4-2 victory.

Francis Boisvert was exceptional for the Jr Sens as he made 36 saves – including a number of highlight-worthy saves – to help his team take away home-ice advantage and steal the first game of the series.

“I liked the way we played, we outshot them 38-21, we out-chanced them 5-on-5 and our special teams were good,” said Canadians coach Jason Clarke. “But we made two turnovers in the areas that we talked about before the series started. You just can’t turnover pucks at the blue-line against this hockey team.”

After a superb start to the game where the Canadians grabbed a 2-0 lead and held Ottawa to just three shots in the first period, it was a turnover at the Jr Senators blue-line that sent Ottawa on the attack. Owen Cole was the benefactor of the turnover, scoring 0:27 into the second period.

Carleton Place held off the Ottawa attack throughout most of the second period, but a goal from Christopher Piché erased the Canadians lead created by Reece Bolton and Henry Enebak.

The Canadians should have restored their lead late in the second period with a pair of chances that looked like sure goals if not for the efforts of Boisvert.

“The difference in the game was their goaltender was way better than ours,” Clarke said. “Boisvert really kept them in the game, he made four or five unbelievable saves. The score could have been a lot different if we buried a few chances, and it could have been a lot different if our goaltender stopped a few pucks.”

The third period kept the back-and-forth pace continuing, but it was Ottawa who found the goals it needed to get the 1-0 series lead. Noah Rowe beat Connor Murphy with a long range shot from the blue-line through some traffic to get the lead. Then, 1:04 later, Ethan Manderville scored on the wrap-around by slipping the puck between Murphy’s legs.

Despite losing on Sunday, the Canadians players and staff were pleased with the way the team played.

“I thought it was a good game for us overall, unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but all the guys worked pretty hard and executed the game plan fairly well,” Canadians assistant captain Ben Tupker said. “We just have to do a better job of managing pucks and capitalizing on our opportunities.”

“All the positives [from the game] way outweigh the negatives,” Clarke added. “If we continue to play like that, and Connor plays a better game, then we’re going to give ourselves a chance to win any game.”

Two things that work in the Canadians favour heading into Game Two of the series are they don’t have to wait long to get back on the ice with the series resuming on Monday night in Ottawa, and Murphy has shown he can bounce back from a poor performance quickly the rare times he has needed to throughout the season.

Tupker said the players were “itching” to get Game Two underway.

“Everyone will be ready to go, we know what we need to do differently and we know what we did well. We just have a little bit more information heading into [Monday] and guys are looking forward to it.”

Meanwhile, in terms of Murphy, the Canadians said they are aware games like Sunday’s are rare for him.

“Murphy’s a proud guy and, in fairness to him, he’s been very good all playoffs long,” Clarke said. “That’s the first time he’s had a bad game in the playoffs and we just need him to bounce back and play a really good game. Knowing the way Connor is, I’m sure he’s going to be able to bounce back and play really well.”

“We know we can trust Murphy,” stated Tupker.