By: Daniel Vazzoler
It took a come-from-behind effort, but the Carleton Place Canadians beat the Nepean Raiders 3-2 Monday evening to finish the CCHL Labour Day Showcase Weekend with a perfect 3-0-0 record.
Nepean jumped in front to a 2-0 lead early in the second period before Jake Meikle’s first goal in the CCHL started the Canadians’ come back.
“It was a really good feeling (to get the goal) and gave the boys the energy we needed,” he said. “I just had the puck in the perfect spot, it was a good shot and I hoped for the best. It gave us some energy and brought us back in the game.”
Both Nepean and Carleton Place were playing their third game in three days, but fatigue looked like it was hitting the Canadians the hardest in the first period. Nepean came out playing with more pace than Carleton Place and it was able to turn that into a Tyler Orban goal to take the 1-0 lead.
“I thought we came out slow, a little hesitant. We were losing a lot of puck battles and the boys weren’t playing hard,” said Geoff Kitt, Canadians captain.
Carleton Place coach Jason Clarke furthered the point, saying Nepean was the more physical of the two teams in the opening period.
“They were very aggressive on the fore-check and forced us to our backhand a lot. We made a lot of mistakes in the first period,” Clarke added.
The second period didn’t start any better for Carleton Place.
Jordan Renaud scored on the power play with a nice tip of the Andrew Froese point shot, deflecting the puck past Michael Leach – who was making his first start of the season. With the goal, Nepean had a two-goal lead just over three minutes into the second period and the momentum on their side.
As Meikle pointed out, his goal with 7:15 left in the middle frame started to shift the momentum in the Canadians favour. The puck came to the Carleton Place defenceman along the boards right along the blue-line. He wasted no time in launching a slap shot past Matthew Chan into the upper part of the net.
“That (goal) just fired the boys up, we knew we were just one shot away from getting back into it,” Kitt said.
The one shot that tied the game might not have been the prettiest of goals, but it counted just the same. Jay Powell missed his shot from the blue-line wide of the net and Brent Hill won the battle at the side of the net to bank the rebound off the Raiders goaltender, tying the game going to the third period.
Following the game, Clarke and Kitt both emphasized the resolve and character of the Canadians to turn things around and improve their pace and physical play as the game wore on.
The hard work was rewarded in the third period as Kitt forced a turnover in the Nepean zone while the Raiders were on the man advantage, and then set up Sam Knoblauch for the game-winning goal.
“I feel like they just think we’re just going to sit back and they can take their time. When I was coming in, I saw him (the Raiders defenceman) and he wasn’t really paying attention, he was just weighing out his options and I just jumped on him from the other side because I knew he wasn’t prepared,” Kitt explained. “Just won a puck battle there and I heard “Knob” calling for it in the slot and I just threw it out there perfectly for him.”
Knoblauch made no mistake on the chance and snapped a shot right past Chan’s ear for the 3-2 lead.
The win gave the Canadians a perfect 3-0-0 record to end the weekend and now the team prepares to continue its hot start with the Ottawa Jr Senators coming to the Carleton Place Arena on Friday with an equally impressive start to the season in tow.
“I think it’s good to be 3-and-0 but we’ve got a lot of stuff to go over this week,” Clarke said. “We’ve got a big opponent in Ottawa. Ottawa’s definitely loaded up and they’re the best team in our league by far, I think, after this weekend. We’ve got a lot of work to do this week in practice.”