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Special teams struggle in loss to Bears

By: Daniel Vazzoler

The Carleton Place Canadians suffered a 5-1 loss to the Smiths Falls Bears on Friday, in large part due to a lackluster special teams performance from the Canadians.

Smiths Falls handed Carleton Place numerous chances for the Canadians to get the offence going, but nothing clicked for the power play units as they went 0-for-8. Going scoreless on the man advantage is something that can be overcome if the penalty killers have a strong game. That wasn’t the case though as the Canadians allowed the Bears to go 2-for-5 on their power plays.

“Power play is all about execution, composure and outworking the penalty kill. We had none of those [Friday] night,” Canadians coach Brent Sullivan expressed. “Our penalty kill had too many bad reads and sticks, allowing them to zip the puck around. Just wasn’t good enough. No matter how much video and prep work you do, if you don’t apply the small details, you’ll get exposed.”

The Canadians fell behind early thanks to a Thomas Gangl power play marker 4:41 into the game. The Bears got set up in the attacking zone and worked the puck back to Gangl on the blue-line. His long wrist shot got through the traffic in front and beat Jackson Pundyk.

The Bears added a goal late in the first period to double the lead but Gino Colangelo cut the deficit in half just 0:50 into the second period to, seemingly, give the Canadians a chance. The top line of Colangelo, Derek Hamilton and Matteo Disipio continued to show their chemistry as a quick passing play on the rush set Colangelo up right between the hash-marks and his shot beat Will McEvoy high on the glove-side.

The momentum couldn’t be built on though as the Bears responded less than two minutes later and then added a 5-on-3 power play goal at 6:44 into the second period.

“I wasn’t happy with our compete level,” Sullivan said. “We went to pucks too passively and with too much respect for them. We were too reactive rather than being on our toes and dictating play.”

After going up 4-1, the Bears started playing undisciplined and opened the door to the Canadians with six Carleton Place power plays in the last half of the game. Chances Carleton Place couldn’t take advantage of as it struggled to make plays and deal with the Smiths Falls pressure.

The Canadians had been riding a three-game winning streak heading into Friday and had been playing well before the loss Friday. So, perhaps this loss is merely an outlier of how this team can perform. The challenge will be how the Canadians respond on Sunday at home against the Brockville Braves.

“Our team is built on compete and depth,” Sullivan explained. “When the majority of our team does not show up ready to compete and, instead, is complacent, that’s on me. I’ll be sure to have them ready for Sunday.”