Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
Last week the Brockville Braves dominated and were robbed of a win on home ice. On Friday they upped the ante, so they wouldn’t get denied another victory at the Memorial Centre.
The Braves doubled up the Nepean Raiders in the shot count last week and still lost 2-1. This week Brockville was on the right side of a 2-1 score after coming close to tripling the amount of pucks on net for most of the game against the Kemptville 73s until the 73s started pouring it on in the latter half of the third period. By the end of the matchup the Braves fired 17 more shots than Kemptville.
Brockville coach Jesse Winchester said he thought his team played better this time compared to last week with his squad carrying the play for the majority of the 60 minutes.
“We had contributions from all four lines. I thought our puck management was pretty good except for the last five minutes where they scored and we traded a few, but by and large we were good,” said Winchester.
The Braves scored both their goals on the power play in the second period.
Captain Fred Allaire got things going when he cleaned up a rebound after a shot from the point from Simon Kerr less than two minutes into the middle frame.
Defenceman Chace McCardle, playing in just his third game with Brockville, fired a shot in the slot that went top left corner to put Brockville up 2-0 with less than three minutes left in the period.
The Braves looked like they were cruising to the win before 73s Ryan Pawlikowski beat goalie Antoine Bourdeau short side with about two minutes left in the game.
Braves defencemen Simon Mack and Tyler McBay are with the Canada East team getting ready to play in the World Junior A Challenge. Those are two big missing pieces with both of them averaging about 25 to 27 minutes of ice time every game.
Filling in was Mason Piercey, playing in his eighth game this season, and Josh Cole, a call-up from the Brockville Tikis.
The blue-liners covered Mack and McBay’s minutes by committee. That’s pretty impressive considering someone like Simon Kerr, who averages about 25 minutes a game as well, added a few more minutes to his total.
All in all they did pretty well, allowing just six shots in the first period, seven shots in the second, and eight in the third.
Goalie Antoine Bourdeau was solid in his third straight start with Laim Souliere also suiting up for the Canada East team.
He looked to be on his way to his first CCHL shutout until he got beat a few minutes before the buzzer. He ended up making 20 saves, some of them pretty impressive too.
The 18-year-old looks to be getting more confident and comfortable every game.
His save percentages in the last three games are .929, .962, and .952.
“In pre-season he was legit too,” said Winchester. “We know we have a good one in him, but it’s a tough league and he battled through a few. He’s strung together some good efforts right now when we need him most and it’s impressive to see.”
Brockville’s power play and penalty kill has been trending down for over a month now.
Heading into Friday’s game, the Braves scored seven goals on 57 power play chances since the beginning of November, while the penalty kill allowed 11 goals on 49 chances over that time.
Friday was different with Brockville scoring two goals on just three power play opportunities and they looked good doing it with the way they were moving the puck.
The penalty kill was only tested once, but if they can continue to look the way they did than it won’t stay down for long. The biggest moment came when Allaire blocked a shot and then dished out a big hit seconds later.
“Our penalty kill has been on a slide and our power play was down by the bottom. We have quality kids who work hard and can play the game, so there’s no reason for us to be at the bottom of the league in either of those two categories,” said Winchester. “Tonight was a good effort, but it’s just one, so let’s string them together on special teams.”
NEED SOME FAITH
Eric Faith hasn’t found his name on the score sheet in four straight games.
Before this cold streak, Faith didn’t pick up a point just four times in 26 games.
Winchester is far from worried. He likes what he sees from the Sam Allison-Faith-Justin McRae line and with so many new players on the roster as of late it’s that line fans can probably expect to be kept together by the sound of things.
“I think their line had 10 to 12 chances,” said Winchester. “When they’re working this line has the capability to break games open together and I think they’re likely going to be the most dangerous line in the league.”
The Braves head to Kanata to take on the Lasers on Sunday. Brockville has beat the Lasers both times they’ve played them this season.
The Braves will take on the Rockland Nationals next Friday at home. They’ve split the season series in two games. The Nationals have the fourth-best winning percentage.