By: Daniel Vazzoler
The Carleton Place Canadians wore down the ice in front of the penalty box as they took 14 penalties in a 6-3 loss to the Pembroke Lumber Kings, allowing Pembroke to go 3-for-11 on the power play.
“It doesn’t matter how poor you think the officiating is, you still have to control your emotions and we couldn’t do that,” Canadians coach Jason Clarke said following Friday’s loss. “We got out-worked and out-classed. We’ve just got to take our medicine like a man.”
The Carleton Place penalty kill has been an issue for them throughout the season so far, sitting significantly lower than in years past. Formerly one of the most dangerous and effective penalty killing teams in the CCHL, the Canadians sat eighth in league when down a man – killing penalties at an 83.1 per cent rate.
“Penalty kill guys just aren’t winning one-on-one battles. We had the puck outside the dots and had opportunities on every single one of their (Pembroke’s) power play goals to ice the puck, and we didn’t win the battle. Then the puck got in between the dots and we got exposed.”
Brady Egan was the first to strike on the Lumber Kings man-advantage, capitalizing on the power play created by a sloppy Carleton Place change that resulted in a too many men on the ice penalty less than three minutes into the game.
Connor Warnholtz scored the other two power play goals for Pembroke. He scored the first late in the opening period to give his team a 3-0 lead heading to the first intermission, and tallied the other late in the second period to diminish the hopes of the Canadians of erasing the three-goal deficit.
As Carleton Place was starting to gain momentum, it would do something shortly thereafter to swing the momentum the other way.
Whether it was giving up a goal 0:31 after scoring the Canadians first goal of the game or taking a penalty after a series of good shifts, the Lumber Kings were able to hold on long enough to have an opportunity to strike for themselves.
“They were way better than we were, for sure. Right from the goaltenders, to the other players through to the coaching staff, they were better than we were in every part of the game.”
Neither team was very disciplined on Friday night, as the Canadians also had a handful of power play chances but couldn’t match Pembroke’s success – only going 1-for-4 – and were unable to draw more penalties to get more attempts at the man-advantage.
“We just didn’t move pucks on the power play,” Clarke stated. “We scored one power play goal, but our power play wasn’t very good. We weren’t crisp, not a lot of good decision-making, just part of what wasn’t a good night for us.”
The third period reflected the brief moments in Friday’s game when the game was played at even-strength, as Carleton Place was down in the attacking zone for most of the final 20 minutes of regulation – and scored to bring the deficit to 5-3, creating a sense of hope for a come-back in some – but Clarke attributed the strong third period for his team to something else.
“Pembroke’s got a three-goal lead going into the third period, they’re not playing with the same jam. We take that with a grain of salt, but one positive thing is we didn’t take any penalties in the third period (until the last seconds of the game) and they didn’t get a goal, other than the empty-netter. So, there’s a positive outlook on it.”
Friday’s meeting at the Carleton Place Arena was the first of two games between the Canadians and the Lumber Kings during the week-end, with the second game to be played on Sunday at the Pembroke Memorial Centre – a rare Sunday afternoon home game for Pembroke, with the game starting at 3 p.m.
“Ever since Pembroke made the coaching change, the team’s been getting better and better, which is something we talked about before the game,” Clarke admitted. “They were on a three-game winning streak, they beat Ottawa 5-0 and now they spanked us.
“If you take teams lightly in this league, you’re not going to win hockey games. Those kids on the other side have a lot of pride, there’s six 20-year-olds there that don’t like being in last place and, again, their guys were way better than we were.”