By: Daniel Vazzoler
It was a rare morning game for the Carleton Place Canadians on Friday as they travelled to the Pembroke Memorial Centre to face the Pembroke Lumber Kings and they got their Friday started with a 5-1 victory.
Even though the game time was different for Carleton Place, its success didn’t change as the Canadians continued to dominate their opponents. Carleton Place almost doubled Pembroke in shots – 46-25 in the game – and spent very little time in the defensive zone, except for a stretch in the second period that led to the Lumber Kings goal.
“I thought we played really well,” said Canadians coach Jason Clarke. “I like how we handled Pembroke’s push-back in the second period after they scored the power-play goal. We weathered the storm and, between the second and third period, got our feet back underneath us and our minds back to playing the way we wanted to play.”
Peyton Francis opened the scoring in the first period, tipping the Tim Theocharidis shot from the blue-line past Jake Smith.
But it was the second period, for once recently, where the Canadians took control of the game. After not scoring a second-period goal since the last time it faced Pembroke back on Oct. 7, Carleton Place scored a trio of goals in the middle frame on Friday to take a four-goal lead.
Geoff Kitt found a loose puck around the net to score a power-play goal early into the second period. Sam Knoblauch then hit Justin Cmunt with a great pass into the slot, showing tremendous vision on the ice with the no-look pass to allow Cmunt to beat Smith with a splendid wrist shot. Travis Broughman capped off the run of three goals in less than five minutes, banking his shot off Smith and into the net.
In the latter half of the second period, Jacob Kamps beat Jeremie Forget through the goalie’s five-hole to cut the Carleton Place lead to 4-1 heading into the third period.
“The second period was alright for us,” Theocharidis, Canadians assistant captain said. “The first 10 (minutes) were great, popping in those goals and getting a lead, but after that we started to left off the gas and they took it to us a bit in the second. We can’t let that happen and it’s going to be a learning lesson going down the road, especially when playoffs come along.”
In the third period, Carleton Place peppered Smith with 23 shots and was rewarded for the offensive effort with a Connor Hill goal as he cleaned up the rebound following Smith stopping Jack Clark on a breakaway.
“There were a few things that we wanted to attack differently against Pembroke and I really liked how we executed our game plan,” Clarke said. “All 20 guys were dialed in and very focused on making sure we followed the game plan … We attacked the way we wanted to and got the looks that we wanted. Academically, as a group, we were an A+.”
Friday’s game was Pembroke’s annual school-day game where it invites kids from the local schools to the game, which means puck drop is an early start to allow the students to come to the game.
Clarke wanted no excuses from his team for the 11 a.m. start, so he adjusted the travel plans for the team and had the team head to Pembroke the night before.
“After practice on Thursday we headed up to Arnprior, had a team meal at The Prior and checked into our hotel at around 8 o’clock at the Best Western. We got up at the same time, had breakfast at the same time as all the Pembroke Lumber Kings did. I think it was a good move on our part to be able to have the same schedule as them and then gave players no excuse for the early morning game.”
While it was played in front of the school kids, the game did not lack the physicality and feistiness fans of Pembroke and Carleton Place have come to expect from the rivalry over the years.
“We were up, so we knew stuff maybe was going to happen so we were just getting ready for it,” Theocharidis explained. “Always have our heads up, making the simple play and if anything did happen just protect ourselves and protect our own team-mates.”
“I don’t think it was anything malicious on Pembroke’s side, I don’t think it was anything malicious on our side,” Clarke added. “Sometimes scrums happen, and there were a couple high sticks that were incidental that guys got pissed off about.
“I liked how we responded, we didn’t back down from anybody and it was good to see guys sticking up for their team-mates,” Clarke continued.
Clarke, along with Forget, Broughman, Josh Gagne and Haydn Hopkins are off to face Oswego State as part of the CCHL All-Graduate team on Saturday. They will rejoin Carleton Place in time for Sunday’s game, when the Canadians play host to the Smiths Falls Bears for a 3 p.m. start.