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Jonathon Brodie - Recorder & Times

Braves continue to push and send series to Game 7

Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times

The Brockville Braves are getting ready for Game 7 against the Ottawa Jr. Senators.

There’s not many people who would have believed that opening sentence less than a week ago when Brockville trailed the CCHL semifinal series 3-1.

After beating Ottawa 4-2 in Game 6 at the Memorial Centre on Tuesday, the Senators now have their back against the wall and it’s time for them to show if they’re as comfortable as the Braves are when the season is on the line.

Game 7 is Wednesday in Ottawa.

It now seems like a distant memory when coach Jesse Winchester was disappointed in his team after Game 4 at the Memorial Centre. Now the CCHL coach of the year, along with the rest of his team, is flying high with the Braves playing not only their best games of the series recently, but arguably some of their best work all year.

“We love our group. We respect each other and hold each other accountable in regards to work ethic in terms of sticking to our style,” said Winchester. “For the most part this season our interviews have been gone pretty well the same way – the effort was there and the things we want to do are there. When we do that we have success.”

Brockville went into the third period of Game 6 tied 2-2. Braves captain Andrew Jarvis said he wasn’t nervous when his team trailed 3-1 heading into the final 20 minutes of regulation in Game 5 last Saturday, eventually pulling out 6-5 overtime win. He admitted, though, this time he was nervous heading into the third period of Game 6, despite his team being in a better position.

Philippe Gilmour had already picked up two game-winners in this year’s playoff run and he added a third Tuesday when from behind the net he passed the puck out front, bouncing it off goalie Connor Hicks’ skate with less than six minutes left in regulation. It was the type of goal you got the sense it was the hockey gods’ way of saying they want to see a Game 7.

“The heart on this team is unparalleled to absolutely anybody in the CJHL and we did it again,” said Jarvis. “We’re going to be even-keeled and hungry for tomorrow.”

As a whole, it was the type of game had Brockville lost they could have kept their head high because it was obvious they were laying everything on the line.

Hard work and speed are what the Braves made their name on all season and it’s what they relied on Tuesday.

The Braves were getting energy from everywhere up-and-down the lineup.

They got big hits from Andrew Jarvis and Mike McArthur and blocked shots from Simon Kerr and Jordi Jefferson. Jonathan Hill pushed forwards aside in front of the net. If one Brockville player went into the corner there was at least one more teammate close behind. Goalie Justin Evenson made more than a handful of saves that looked like sure-goals and never really looked stressed about anything.

The most energy, though, came from the Braves attack on the other side of the rink when they didn’t have the puck. Brockville duos were relentless when Ottawa had the puck in their own zone and they formed almost-like two tiers for Senators puck handlers to try to get by. If you got by Nicholas Hawkins then Eric Faith was right there to harass you before the blue line. If Fred Allaire stalled a Sens player then Christophe Cote was their to pounce. If it wasn’t Tyson Kirkby, it was Holland, and so on and so one.

Again, it was a hallmark to Brockville’s game all year, but something that only came in spurts throughout this series. On Tuesday it was in full force and it generated a lot of turnovers and chances for the Braves.

“The job isn’t done. We have to enjoy the moment and then refocus to tomorrow because (Ottawa’s) backs are against the wall now, as our backs are,” said Winchester. “We’re going to see Ottawa’s best game. I told (my team) I don’t think we’ve played our best game yet.”

The Braves will be looking to do something the Senators avoided all year – hand them three straight losses.

Brockville is keeping a short memory. During the bad times it worked to forget some of the dismal performances against Ottawa. There’s no need to change that formula during the good times either because the Braves know as well as anyone that things can change pretty quickly.

“Before the game we acknowledged that Saturday (Game 5) was a great game, but it doesn’t mean anything now,” said Winchester. “We have to play for two days that way or else it doesn’t mean anything. Tonight was a good step. The boys are, obviously, fired up, but the big one comes tomorrow.”

***SIdenote: Before the game the Braves and Sens paid tribute to Humboldt victims and met around the centre circle. A special song for Humboldt played, followed by the national anthem, which heard more people singing O Canada than usual. The Braves were collecting donations and gave one dollar to every ticket sold from Tuesday’s game to a GoFundMe setup for the families of the Humboldt tragedy. By game’s end it was reported $1,330 was raised.

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