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Canadians victorious in meeting against former teammates

By: Daniel Vazzoler

Sunday marked the first time the Carleton Place Canadians and Brockville Braves faced off since their trade last week and it was Carleton Place who came away with the 3-0 win.

Carleton Place sent Ryan Bonfield and Caleb Kean to the Braves in exchange for Liam Goreski, Jackson Hay and Marco Iozzo and the new Canadians helped spurn their former team en route to getting the win. Hay was a thorn in the side of his former teammates, Goreski had a pair of assists and Iozzo tallied his first goal as a Canadian.

Just 0:30 after Bill Gourgon opened the scoring early in the second period, Iozzo tried to send a pass out to the slot. Instead, the pass deflected off Brandon Abbott and trickled through the Braves goaltender’s legs for a 2-0 lead.

“It just gives me some confidence,” Iozzo said about getting his first goal with his new team. “It wasn’t the nicest goal, that’s for sure but, definitely nice to settle my nerves and just play my game how I want to.”

There was a definitive edge and level of intensity to Sunday’s game, with scrums after nearly every whistle and heavy hits being thrown by both teams. The intensity was evident in the penalties, as a total of 16 penalties were handed out between the two teams but the power plays went a combined 0-for-11.

“Obviously there was emotion behind this game, you can’t deny that,” Canadians coach Brent Sullivan said. “Our guys came out and were ready to compete from the puck-drop so it was nice to see.”

With the Canadians hovering around the eighth and final play-off spot in the CCHL standings, some changes were looking imminent. The trade of Bonfield and Kean – and the return for the duo – might be a sign of looking to the future. But the way the Canadians have played in the two games since the trade show the team is still competitive this season as well.

“If we were going to move Caleb Kean and Ryan Bonfield, we needed to get back exactly what we wanted and I wasn’t going to settle for anything,” Sullivan said. “I needed pace, a defenceman that could play at both ends of the ice, I needed a guy that could compete and, in talking about Jackson Hay, he just brings incredible leadership.

“Marco Iozzo is a crafty, crafty kid, really good on face-offs and dependable. Liam Goreski brings a ton of pace and speed on the wing,” continued Sullivan. “It was elements that we needed back, but it was an identity change as well. We wanted to be harder to play against, I wanted our team to be faster and it was nice to see that in spades (on Sunday).”

The two goals scored just 0:30 apart in the second period – and Derek Hamilton’s empty net goal in the final minute of the game – proved to be more than enough support for Joe Chambers who picked up his first shut-out of the season with a 20-save performance.

“It’s well overdue, that guy battles every single night for us and, in a lot of cases, he’s the only reason we’re in games,” Canadians captain Jake Code said of his goalie. “For him to get that, it’s huge for our team and it’s huge for him as well and we’re crazy happy for him. I’m glad about the way the guys battled in front of him because he truly deserves it.”

“I don’t know about that,” Chambers said in response to the shut-out being long overdue. “I’m definitely super, super happy that was the outcome and I couldn’t have done it without the boys in the room. Hats off to them, I know I only got 20 shots against so it wasn’t an overly busy night but they definitely helped out a lot.”

The tests don’t get any easier for the newly-shaped Canadians as the Renfrew Wolves and Navan Grads pay visits to the Carleton Place Arena over the weekend. The Wolves come to Carleton Place on Friday evening while the Grads have the Sunday matinee visit.