By: Daniel Vazzoler
To put it simply, Sunday’s game against the Hawkesbury Hawks was a must-win game for the Carleton Place Canadians.
Coming off a victory over the league-leading Ottawa Jr Senators on Wednesday, the Canadians had a pivotal match-up with the Hawks – a proverbial four-point game. Instead of jumping out to a two-point lead over Hawkesbury, Carleton Place fell 4-2 to Hawkesbury and now finds itself trailing by two points in the standings – sitting in sixth-place instead of fourth.
“I just don’t think we were ready to play,” Canadians assistant coach Adam Lloyd said. “With the long break that we had, I don’t think the guys used the time wisely and it was very evident with the guys who were not using their time efficiently.”
The Canadians had a slow start to Sunday’s game. Two Canadians penalties in the first 10 minutes of the game stifled their opportunity to build momentum on home-ice, one of which being a too many men on the ice penalty and perhaps a sign of not being fully engaged at the start of the game.
Hawkesbury couldn’t convert on the power play chances, but kept the pressure on Carleton Place. The Hawks ended the period with an 11-5 advantage in shots and a 1-0 lead thanks to Landon Brownlee snapping a one-timer past Jackson Pundyk’s glove-hand with 5:31 remaining in the opening frame.
Gino Colangelo got his team on the board early in the second period, beating Dimitri Pelekos from almost the identical spot and with the identical shot as Brownlee beat Pundyk.
Carleton Place then had a four-minute power play to try and build upon the momentum of the tying goal. Instead, a Canadians miscue on a puck dumped into their zone and a missed assignment defensively allowed Antoine Dorion to find Aidan Stubbings right between the hash-marks 1-on-1 against Pundyk. Stubbings made a move to open up the Canadians goaltender before sliding the puck through Pundyk’s legs for the goal.
“To come out for 40 minutes and show some of our most inconsistent hockey of the year was pretty frustrating,” Lloyd said. “When you go into a game off such a high after beating OJS, I think it’s important to almost humble ourselves and just bring the same effort from the success that we had. It wasn’t there (Sunday).”
A goal against 0:30 into the third period seemed to take the wind out of the Canadians sails before pushing back to get into the game.
Caton Ryan’s power play goal with just under four minutes remaining made things interesting late. The shot he rifled past Pelekos’s blocker shoulder meant the Canadians strong special teams play of late continued but it wasn’t enough for the win on Sunday.
For most of the game, according to Lloyd, the effort level was not up to the standards put in place by the coaching staff. Considering the performance on Wednesday was one the coaches could look at as being a near textbook game, Sunday created some frustration and led to a simple message following the game: “It has to be a lot better than what we showed (Sunday),” Lloyd stated.
“Consistency is the biggest issue with our group right now,” he continued. “We play seven games in 11 days, it’s going to be extremely important for everyone to take care of their bodies and prepare for every game the same way and bring their best night in and night out.”
The tough stretch of the schedule starts on Thursday with a road trip to face the Cornwall Colts and Saturday against the Ottawa Jr Senators before back-to-back home games on Sunday and Tuesday against the Kemptville 73’s and Pembroke Lumber Kings.