Canadians thrashed by Bears

By: Daniel Vazzoler

After a game where everything went right for the Carleton Place Canadians in their win on Saturday, Tuesday’s game against the Smiths Falls Bears was the complete opposite as the Canadians lost 6-0.

The matchup was billed as a meeting between two of the top teams in the CCHL with the Canadians trying to track down the Bears for the third spot in the league standings. Only four points separated the teams heading into the game but the gap looked much larger on the ice.

Carleton Place opened the game with a strong shift from the trio of Loic Prud’homme, Will Soloway and Noah Kinloch-Varga. The line tasked with shutting down the Bears top line did just that, keeping the puck in the attacking zone the entire time it was on the ice.

Following that first minute, Smiths Falls started to turn the momentum and applied pressure against the Carleton Place defence. That pressure led to a Bears power play which turned into two goals scored 1:26 apart.

“Start to finish, after that first shift, was bad,” Canadians coach Brent Sullivan said following the loss. “Poor execution, poor emotions on the bench. They scored one (goal) and we watched our guys completely deflate.”

Owen Watson assisted Thomas Haynes to open the scoring on the power play 7:00 into the first period before finishing off an opportunity on the rush to double the lead for Smiths Falls.

The second period didn’t go any better for the Canadians.

Watson was awarded a penalty shot at 1:30 into the middle frame and he took Jackson Pundyk out of position with some slick stick-handling before putting the puck above the sprawled-out goaltender.

Sean James scored off the rebound to put an end to Pundyk’s night 4:24 into the second period – not to the fault of the Canadians goalie. Pundyk stopped Riley Thompson’s initial shot but no Canadians defender could stick with James on his way to the net and he took advantage of the off-balance Pundyk to tally his league-leading 36th goal of the season.

“He’s had a few tough nights against Smiths Falls,” Sullivan said of the decision to pull his starter, “but this certainly wasn’t on him. It was more removing him from that game for his sake.”

It didn’t take long for the Bears to solve Joe Chambers. Just 3:05 after entering the game, James and Ty Campbell came in on a 2-on-1 rush and Chambers, respecting the goal-scoring ability, stayed square to James. The goal-scorer played the role of play-maker, hitting Campbell with the pass across the slot and he made no mistake in finding the open net for the 5-0 lead.

With the game all but decided after the second period, the drive battle for second and third opportunities to score seemed to not be there for either side.

Tyler Faucher, however, tallied the lone goal of the final frame, tipping Conor Ronayne’s pass over Chambers’ glove-side shoulder with 8:56 remaining in the game.

This was a far cry from the last time these two teams met, where the Canadians held a 4-3 lead over Smiths Falls in the third period before the Bears ultimately picked up the 5-4 win in over-time just eight days prior to Tuesday’s game.

“The feeling after this game is frustration and anger,” expressed Sullivan. “Especially, to play like that in front of our fans on home ice. It’s unacceptable but we move forward to Sunday now.”

Tuesday started a stretch of three games between them during the week. For the Canadians, their next two games are against Smiths Falls while the Bears host the Renfrew Wolves on Friday before coming back to the Carleton Place Arena next Sunday and Tuesday.

“Reinforce our habits (Wednesday) and make sure we’re better on Sunday,” said Sullivan on the plan to get ready for the next meeting between these two teams. “They haven’t gotten close to our best effort yet and that’s on us to change it.”