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Canadians suffer ‘frustrating’ defeat to Grads

By: Daniel Vazzoler

It hasn’t been an ideal return to action for the Carleton Place Canadians, winning just one of their first three games since the month-long hiatus the CCHL took throughout January.

The struggles continued Friday night as Carleton Place fell 5-2 to the Navan Grads – who sit one spot ahead of the Canadians in the CCHL standings with a nine-point buffer over the eight-seeded Canadians.

“Our fourth loss in a row, so very frustrating (to lose this one),” newly appointed Canadians captain Jackson Hay said following the game. “I think the guys had a great work ethic, but we just need to put things together and actually play some solid defence. We’ve been letting in way too many goals and not scoring enough, clearly. Overall, I think everyone needs to be better.”

The defensive woes have been a factor in the Canadians recent run of play. Dating back to Dec 12 – a stretch of just seven games due to the breaks the league had been forced to take – Carleton Place has allowed a combined 41 goals, or nearly six per game.

Friday’s game started well for Carleton Place as Mark MacPhee scored his fourth goal as a Canadian less than a minute into the game with a well-placed wrister that beat Ben West just over the blocker-side pad.

From there, the Canadians kept the momentum in their favour until late in the opening period.

Some miscommunication and a collision between a pair of Canadians created a turnover just inside the defending blue-line, which quickly turned into Calum Chau snapping his shot post-and-in past Brady McEwan to level the score before the first intermission.

A pair of goals in the second period less than six minutes apart put the Grads up 3-1 and sparked a time-out from head coach Brent Sullivan to, once again, address his team mid-game to try and get things turned around.

One of the positives from the recent stretch of games has been the Canadians power play, and a Brandon Walker goal on the man-advantage seemed to get Carleton Place moving in the right direction again on Friday night.

“Our system and variety of systems definitely helps with that,” Hay said of the power play success. “It keeps teams on their heels for sure and the guys are being a little more shot-hungry. So, they’re just shooting pucks, not making that extra pass and things are kind of bouncing in for us.”

After falling behind by a pair of goals midway through the third period, the Canadians thought they had another power play tally courtesy of Marco Iozzo, however the officials waved the goal off saying the puck never crossed the line.

Within 20 seconds of the disallowed goal, that would have made it 4-3 with roughly 2:30 to play in the third period, Gabriel Crete was awarded a penalty shot on which he took advantage and all but sealed the victory by putting his team up 5-2 with 2:13 left in regulation.

“A lot frustration,” Hay said. “We thought it went in, at the end of the day it’s the ref’s call obviously but we were just all upset. We thought we had something going there. Build on it, pull the goalie and get another but it’s time to flush it.”

The busy schedule continues for the Canadians with a crucial match-up on Sunday at the Carleton Place Arena. The Rockland Nationals make their way to Carleton Place and the two teams currently occupy the eighth and ninth spots in the CCHL. The Canadians currently hold on to the final playoff spot and have a five-point lead over Rockland, but the Nationals have a game in hand.

“It’s hard to (bounce back) when you’re on a losing streak but, at the end of the day, you just have to go home and flush it down the toilet, wake up the next day and prepare for the next game,” said Hay. “Try and build on the positives and forget the negatives.”