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Canadians victorious in home opener

By: Daniel Vazzoler

Sunday marked the first time the Carleton Place Canadians played a regular season game at the Carleton Place Arena since Mar. 1, 2020, and they made sure the home fans were treated well by picking up a 4-1 win over the Kemptville 73’s.

The youth of Carleton Place helped pace the offence with goals from Ethan Woolsey and Jackson Mowatt, but it was the 29-save performance by newcomer Joe Chambers that made the difference in the win.

“I made sure to watch the last game in Cornwall a lot, I don’t want to let the same goal in twice,” Chambers said of his preparation for Sunday. “I felt really comfortable, felt good, the boys are clicking in the room and we’ve got a tight group here. I just played my game, went out there and I tried to throw my emotions away. I try to have a straight-faced attitude going into the game and just stop the next puck.”

“He’s very positionally sound and he’s just one of those guys where he’s not very sporadic,” head coach Brent Sullivan said of his netminder.

Canadians fans have been treated to strong goaltending during the past decade – with the likes Guillaume Therien at the start of the franchise’s runs to the national Jr A championship tournament, Colton Point, a Dallas Stars draft pick back in 2016 and Devon Levi, who started for Team Canada at the most recent World Junior Championship.

While that does create some pressure for Chambers, assistant captain Kerfalla Toure says he is filling that role quite well in the two games so far this season.

“Jumbo in net was phenomenal, so it helps out when you have a good goalie back there like that,” he added.

One thing Carleton Place supporters may not have been used to was seeing their team get outshot by the opposition, but that was the case on Sunday. Kemptville outshot Carleton Place 30-17 – including a 14-5 advantage in the first period.

Chambers allowed his team to get settled in stopping all 14 shots against in the opening period. His team-mates rewarded his efforts early in the second period with Woolsey beating Tyler Laureault to open the scoring just 1:16 into the frame.

Ty White beat Chambers just 31 seconds later to tie the game, but that was the only time Chambers let a puck past him the rest of the way.

Mowatt tallied what stood as the game-winning goal at the 5:12 mark of the second period. His long-range wrist shot got deflected on the way and floated past Laureault’s glove hand.

A test for the Canadians came from within on Sunday by taking that 2-1 lead into the third period.

After a collapse on Thursday against the Cornwall Colts that saw a 3-1 lead get erased, the challenge was going to be how Carleton Place played with the lead in the final 20 minutes.

Derek Hamilton helped quell any restlessness felt going into Sunday’s third period as he tallied a power play goal early in the third period to add some insurance to the Canadians lead. Hamilton took a pass from Toure on the rush and then snapped a shot from in tight up and over Laureault’s shoulder on the short side.

The power play struggled to get set up with the top unit during the first two man-advantages, so Sullivan changed things up by sending out the Hamilton unit to start the third power play.

“It was nice to see them get rewarded,” Sullivan added. “The (Caleb) Kean unit gets most of the time (and) I didn’t like the way they were on the power play, so I wanted to spot the other guys a cookie. It’s funny, I literally looked down for one second and they scored, so something good must have happened.”

Toure added a goal late in the third period to cap off the scoring on Sunday and take away any idea of the 73’s pulling their goalie late in an attempt to tie the game.

Up next for the Canadians is a rivalry match-up with the Ottawa Jr Senators, a rivalry that is new to nearly every player that will take part in the game on Wednesday in Ottawa.

“This a lot of people’s first chance at a rivalry game,” Sullivan explained. “At the end of the day, it’s hard to reach really, really far back into the history for these guys. None of these guys were part of the two (Bogart Cup) Finals losses (but) I’ll bring it up and I’ll talk about how what we’re trying to do is build habits and build a mentality to play deep into May. That’s our goal and it starts with beating OJS.”

“This one is the game we need, it’s a statement game,” added Toure. “They’re the biggest rivals, beat us the last two years in the playoffs, we need to the new guys these are the guys we need to beat.”