By: Daniel Vazzoler
When a team wins 8-0, it’s rare the goaltender on the winning side is a difference-maker.
Joe Chambers was just that on Sunday afternoon as he made 30 saves in the Carleton Place Canadians rout of the Brockville Braves en route to his first shut-out of the season.
“Last year I got my first shut-out of the season against Brockville as well at home,” reminisced Chambers. “I haven’t been myself off the ice or on the ice lately but it feels good to be back.”
There have been flashes of Chambers showing he is capable of producing this way throughout the season and last season as well. This year, he had four games with a save percentage of .917 or better. The consistency hasn’t been there for Chambers though as he also been pulled from three starts this year.
The Canadians goaltender said he looks to his previous start against the Nepean Raiders as the one where things started to change for him.
“The win against Nepean a week ago was huge for me mentally. Even though it wasn’t my best game, I looked at it as a positive stepping stone,” he explained. “This is just the cherry on top. I’m back.”
Carleton Place helped its netminder by cranking up the offence. Three goals in the first 12:41 of the game chased Sami Molu out of the Brockville net and the Canadians kept the scoring going throughout the game – and with the goals coming from up and down the lineup.
“It’s really nice, especially for the older guys seeing the younger guys succeed on and off the ice. That’s going to help us play deep into May,” Canadians assistant captain Gino Colangelo said.
Four of the Canadians eight goals were scored by players in their first season in the CCHL with Dylan Pollock and Loic Prudhomme each getting on the board, while Caton Ryan added a pair of goals.
The veterans made their presence felt as well, with the line of Colangelo, Derek Hamilton and Matteo Disipio playing into the other four goals. Hamilton extended his point streak to 19 games with a five-point performance (two goals and three assists), Disipio scored once and assisted on two others while Colangelo had three assists with Brandon Walker tallying a goal to get the offence from the blue-line.
Goaltenders can influence the trajectory of a team, seemingly, more than any other player on the ice. Carleton Place has seen that play out as it has seen its place in the standings climb as the play of Chambers and Jackson Pundyk has improved over the last month or so.
“(Chambers) is a guy that I think just thrives on swagger and playing well and feeling good about himself,” Canadians coach Brent Sullivan said. “He’s a guy that has struggled as of late but we’re going to have to lean on him and ‘Puds’ down the stretch so it’s nice to see him play well.”
The Ottawa Jr Senators provide the next test for the Canadians, a chance for Carleton Place to respond to Friday’s close loss to Ottawa.
“We were disappointed in our full team effort against OJS at home. It was a game we thought was for the taking, we don’t think we showed up for a full-60,” Sullivan expressed. “In saying that, this feeds our legs, gives us a good day off (Monday), preparation Tuesday for a rematch. An opportunity for us to hopefully showcase our best against them.”
“We can’t be too complacent,” Colangelo added. “We’ve got to remember what happened Friday night and just play our game, play our style and we know we can beat those guys.”
Wednesday night is when the Canadians have a chance to prove those words right with a road trip to go against the Jr Senators. Another road test on Friday against the Rockland Nationals awaits Carleton Place before the first half of the season wraps up on home ice against the Cornwall Colts on Sunday.