By: Daniel Vazzoler
For the second straight game at the 2018 Fred Page Cup, the Carleton Place Canadians looked like the team that dominated most of the play on Thursday night against the host Ottawa Jr. Senators and, once again, came out on the losing end.
After a 2-1 loss to Collège Français de Longueuil to open the tournament on Wednesday, the Canadians dropped another one-goal game on Thursday, this time a 3-2 score line despite the 31-24 advantage in shots Carleton Place had.
“I thought we played well but (Connor) Hicks was the difference,” Canadians coach Jason Clarke said following the loss, before quickly correcting himself. “Well, two things were the difference: Hicks, and our stupidity on taking poor penalties.”
After entering the third period trailing 2-1, a goal from Travis Broughman midway through the period gave the Canadians some hope in pulling out a victory. But a pair of penalties late in the game ended up allowing Ottawa pick up the victory, said Clarke.
“You can’t have selfishness in a tournament like this and it’s definitely disappointing because we played such a good, hard game and the guys battled back, probably deserved a little bit better of fate, but when you have selfishness like that, that’s what happens.”
Carleton Place dominated the opening 20 minutes of the game, limiting Ottawa to five shots in the period compared to its 12, but again couldn’t get a lead to take to the intermission.
Carleton Place started the second period the same way and kept Ottawa in its defensive zone for the first six minutes of the period, but one odd-man rush was all the Jr. Sens needed to capitalize and take the lead thanks to Pierre-Luc Veillette beating Michael Leach on the 2-on-1 rush.
Finn Evans doubled the lead 6:19 later with a long shot on the power play that squeezed through Leach, but Ben Tupker responded quickly to that goal and cut the lead in half less than a minute later.
Broughman tied the game 11:48 into the final period of regulation when he found a loose puck behind Hicks and got to it first to deposit the puck into the net after Hicks was proving to be nearly unbeatable all game.
Shortly after tying the game, however, the Canadians went short-handed and gave up the eventual game-winning goal off the stick of Griffin McGregor. Leach stopped the initial shot and kicked the rebound into the slot right between a pair of Canadian penalty killers. McGregor stepped in the middle of them, got the puck and beat Leach with a wrist shot on the glove-side.
The Canadians tried to rally to comeback in the game, but a late penalty that put them shorthanded in the final three minutes of the game all but sealed the win for Ottawa.
For the first time this year, Carleton Place heads into a game where it faces elimination and Clarke said the way he is addressing the discipline issue is the players who took the penalties late on Thursday won’t be playing on Friday afternoon against the Edmundston Blizzard.
“It’s a do-or-die game and you can’t have guys in the line-up that are going to be selfish,” he explained. “We’ve got guys in Tier 2 that are going to play just as hard in order for us to continue our season.”
Carleton Place found itself in the same situation at last year’s Fred Page Cup after dropping both of its first two games in a shoot-out but managed to make the championship game, something Clarke said can help the team cope with the loss moving forward.
“The guys were disappointed in [Thursday’s] outcome but you’ve got to let them know it was a great effort but we’ve got the next game to worry about. You can’t dwell on the game in a short tournament like this, you’ve got to turn the page and take all the positives out of it. I’ve liked our last two games, they’ve been unbelievable.”
The Canadians will look to get a spot into the playoff rounds of the tournament on the week-end with a win over Edmundston, who is in the same boat as Carleton Place after dropping its first two games as well. Whoever wins that game will play the loser of Ottawa vs Longueuil as they battle Friday night for the top seed and a bye straight to the finals, receiving a much-needed day off in the process.