By: Daniel Vazzoler
The strong season for Brandon Walker continued Saturday night as he scored three goals as part of the Carleton Place Canadians 9-2 win over the Kemptville 73’s.
The 20-year-old defenceman netted goals 17, 18 and 19 on the season with his hat-trick to help pace the Canadians offence which exploded in the dominant victory. As it has throughout the season, the Canadians power play played a pivotal role in the win – a group where Walker has made his mark as well.
After the two teams played to a 1-1 tie in the first period, Carleton Place struck for five goals in the second period to put the game out of reach and take a 6-2 lead to the final frame.
With his team up 4-1 in the second period, Walker tallied his first goal of the game on the power play. Carleton Place didn’t need long to convert on the man-advantage, with Walker one-timing Gino Colangelo’s pass to the weak-side just six seconds after the power play started.
He added another pair of power play goals in the third period to give him 13 power play goals on the season – a number that leads the CCHL and has him one ahead of Matteo Disipio.
Walker’s second goal came from the same spot in the attacking zone, the difference being he one-timed the Disipio pass from the slot instead of the back-door feed directly from Colangelo.
While his first two power play goals were set up for him to have an open net to shoot into, he blasted a slap shot through Jacob Biron to complete the hat-trick of power play goals. Up on a 5-on-3 advantage, Walker stepped into Derek Hamilton’s pass and beat Biron on the glove side to cap off the scoring.
The second period has decided more than its fair share of Canadians games – being one they have struggled in.
On Saturday, the second period decided the game once more – this time, in favour of Carleton Place thanks to the five goals it scored in the period.
Disipio scored his 34th goal of the season 4:07 into the frame to put him into a tie of the CCHL-lead for goals this season. Disipio skated past the Kemptville defence to spring himself on the break-away. He opened up Alex Musielak, who looked to have made the save, before the puck made its way over the goal-line.
At 10:04, Colangelo started a stretch where the Canadians scored three goals in 1:36. Coming in on the rush, it looked like Colangelo tried to shoot into Musielak’s pad to generate a rebound for a driving Derek Hamilton. Instead, the shot slipped under Musielak’s pad for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Will Soloway tallied the first power play goal of the game, scoring off the face-off to start the man advantage. After winning the draw, Soloway got to the front of the net and Caton Ryan found his open blade to deflect the pass through Musielak’s legs 0:26 before Walker tallied his first of the night.
Jackson Pundyk had a strong night in goal for the Canadians as well, stopping 27 of 29 shots he faced, picking up his 18th win of the season.
The victory was a strong response to a disappointing third period on Friday against the Renfrew Wolves where a 3-1 third period lead turned into a 4-3 loss where the Canadians didn’t pick up a point against a Wolves team that is chasing Carleton Place in the standings.
After slipping one point behind Renfrew, the Saturday victory put Carleton Place back in front by the single point for the fourth-seed in the CCHL standings.
A strong test awaits the Canadians on Tuesday, with the Smiths Falls Bears making a visit to the Carleton Place Arena. The Bears occupy the third-seed and are four points up on Carleton Place in the standings. A win on Tuesday makes the possibility of moving past Smiths Falls that much stronger for the Canadians, while a loss could put their focus on maintaining the four-spot instead of moving up further.