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Canadians suffer ‘self-inflicted’ loss against Rockland

By: Daniel Vazzoler

The Carleton Place Canadians held a 3-1 lead in the middle of the second period, but penalties allowed the Rockland Nationals to gain momentum – and eventually the lead – in the Canadians 5-4 loss on Sunday.

A long 5-on-3 power play for Rockland proved to be a deciding factor in the game as the Nationals used a pair of power play goals less than a minute apart to change the score from trailing 3-2 to holding a 4-3 lead over the host Canadians.

“Over the last three or four games, we’ve taken a lot of needless penalties, guys need to start controlling their sticks,” Carleton Place coach Jason Clarke said. “We’re getting tripping penalties, high sticking penalties, I think we’ve taken 10 high sticking penalties in the last three games. Guys have to be accountable for their actions and they’re just not, guys are just flailing their sticks all over the place. You can’t be taking needless penalties, especially when you’re already killing penalties.”

In the final six minutes of the second period, the Canadians had a 3-2 lead but had Patrick Larkin, Ayo Adeniye and Ben Tupker all serving minor penalties and put the Nationals on the extended power play. Cameron Scrivens scored on a rebound following a blocked shot, tying the game and keeping Rockland on a 5-on-3 advantage.

The Canadians killed the remainder of the Adeniye minor before Matthew Vermaeten scored the Nationals second power play goal 0:59 after levelling the score.

A Keenan Reynolds power play goal tied the game early in the third period, but defensive struggles throughout Sunday’s game cost Carleton Place in the end with Josh Norman tallying the game-winning goal with 6:12 left in the game.

“Offensive zone and neutral zone I thought we played well, in the defensive zone we were a little lax and that’s what happens,” Clarke said. “We just didn’t take time and space away and guys just didn’t play hard. We had the puck most of the time in the offensive zone, we had lots of chances and had the puck most of the game (but) we get to the D-zone and we just didn’t work.

“When we don’t work and play hard in all three zones, you’re going to get the result we have,” he added.

While the Canadians struggled defensively on Sunday, so too did goaltender Connor Murphy. It was an off-game for both goaltenders with Joseph Giacobbo allowing four goals on 27 shots against, but Murphy particularly struggled as he gave up five goals on 15 shots.

“Their goaltender was way better than ours, I mean, we’ve got to get some stops too,” Clarke expressed. “A couple of the goals (against) were bad bounces, but Murphy’s got to be way better than he was [Sunday].”

The good thing for Murphy, and the Canadians for that matter, is he has tended to have a strong performance the next game after he struggles. Clarke attributed that to the competitiveness his goaltender shows before adding he expects Murphy to be one of the best players for Carleton Place on Wednesday when the Canadians travel to face the Kemptville 73’s.

While frustrated with the penalties, Clarke said there’s no message to be sent directly addressing the discipline of the team.

“Guys just need to be ready to be mentally tough and ready to play. If you don’t have control of your stick that obviously means you weren’t ready to go, you’re not mentally prepared. Guys just need to start being accountable for their sticks and making sure they’re playing the game the right way.”