By: Daniel Vazzoler
After a pair of disappointing losses, the Carleton Place Canadians responded on Friday with a 7-3 win over the Renfrew Wolves.
A quick start to the game helped the Canadians get past the Wolves. Four goals in the first period – including three in the first nine minutes – put Renfrew on their heels and Carleton Place didn’t give them a chance to get back into the game.
One thing Canadians head coach Brent Sullivan said contributed to the success on Friday was the team’s commitment to a stronger, more physical style of play.
“It’s an important part of the game for any team. I think that you need to be able to initiate contact and engage,” he continued. “We got away from our style of play in Navan where they had their way with us offensively and we didn’t compete, went into Kemptville and it was pretty much the same result. It was something we drilled home on Wednesday’s practice and they responded pretty well to it.”
That response was evident from the opening face-off and throughout the game.
“It gives us more time and space,” added Canadians assistant captain Will Soloway. “Every time they’re touching pucks, they’re thinking they have five guys all over them. (Physical play) gives us more room and makes them turn over the puck and feeds our energy, feeds our legs.”
The pressure Carleton Place put on Renfrew forced the Wolves into some careless mistakes, turnovers and, perhaps most importantly with how well the Canadians’ units are operating, power plays.
Carleton Place had two power plays in the opening period and made quick work of both opportunities to build the lead in the first period. After not converting on the man advantage in the first two games back from the break, the power play seems to be running at full steam again.
“I think we had our chances, we just didn’t bear down,” Canadians forward Matteo Disipio said about the power play. “We practiced it a lot and we take pride in our power play. Sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t, I think (Friday) was a night that was clicking. It’s just what we do.”
Sullivan said he credits the work and preparation the team puts in to planning how to attack the other team’s penalty kill for how potent the Canadians can be on the power play – a group that now ranks third in the CCHL at 21.3 per cent.
“Scoring two set face-off plays is not by accident,” he stated. “What my message to them is ‘Here’s the road map, now go and execute.’ I’m happy to see it pay off because I think it gets full buy-in from the guys.”
One of those set plays led to Brandon Walker opening the scoring just 0:54 into the game – eight seconds after the power play started.
And while it has been the top unit contributing to the power play success – a group that scored two of the three power play goals on Friday – the second unit chipped in for the other power play tally on Friday with Soloway’s goal that was assisted by CPC-returnee Bill Gourgon and Caton Ryan.
The offensive prowess of the Gino Colangelo-Derek Hamilton-Disipio unit doesn’t stop after the power play. The trio each had a four-point night and each player picked up an even-strength goal, with Disipio’s second goal of the game coming on the power play, to continue to prove they are one of – if not the best – top line in the CCHL.
For the team, being able to bounce back into the win column quickly is paramount at this stage of the season.
“Especially against these guys, they’re right with us in the standings,” Soloway said. “It’s going to be game after game, there’s not much rest in between so every point matters and we want to get the highest seed going into the playoffs as possible.”
The win means the Canadians and Wolves flip places in the standings and move one point ahead of Renfrew, as well as in a tie with the Hawkesbury Hawks for fourth in the CCHL.
As Soloway mentioned, there’s no rest for the weary heading down the stretch. Carleton Place has seven games remaining in the month of January. The Canadians are on the road for their next two games before returning home on Jan. 22 against the Hawks – a game that will be crucial for playoff positioning down the stretch.