Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
It was another tough fight for the Brockville Braves, but they managed to get by with a 5-3 win over the Cornwall Colts on Friday at the Memorial Centre. The win is their 15th in 16 games.
The game looked like it was going into overtime, but Braves Nicholas Hawkins got behind a Colts defender to go on a 2-on-1 rush and then passed the puck to captain Fred Allaire, who put home a slap shot with 40 seconds left for the game-winner.
Just when you thought the Braves, the No. 1 ranked team in the CJHL, were in control of the game, the Colts would put up a big fight.
It looked like Brockville was in for an easy matchup with the way their top line pinned down Cornwall in their own zone for about two minutes to start the game. Then the third line came out and the Colts scored about 20 seconds into the shift on their first shot of the game to open the scoring.
The Braves tied the game when Eric Faith received a stretch pass from Spencer Cosway to go on a partial breakaway. These days it seems like the CCHL’s top point-getter can’t miss and he picked up his 14th goal of the season with seven minutes left in the first period.
The Braves second goal came with some debate. There was a loose puck in front of the Colts net and just about everybody on the ice crashed the net with goalie Michael Carr on his back. It was a bit of a melee for about five seconds before Allaire whacked the puck home. Cornwall got a pair of penalties on the play with Benjamin Dirven roughing after the whistle and Colts coach Ian MacInnis receiving a bench minor for his disapproval of the goal with the refs not blowing the whistle.
The Braves capitalized on the 5-on-3 power play with Simon Mack scoring his second goal of the season.
Arguably, the biggest jolt for Cornwall came when Konnor MacCormick dropped the gloves with Faith late in the second period. MacCormick, who scored the Colts first goal, is his team’s best scorer, but with the fight he managed to take out the league’s top player with both getting ejected.
The fight seemed to light a fire under Cornwall and about a minute later they cut into the deficit when Dirven took a shot from the blue line that bounced off teammate Tommy Tanner.
The Colts came out flying in the third period and Tristan Poissant cleaned up a rebound to tie the game 3-3 less than two minutes into the frame.
Allaire’s late-game heroics put a stop to Cornwall’s comeback. Joshua Spratt added any empty netter to round out the scoring.
NO SECOND FIDDLES
It’s easy to miss how good Allaire and Hakwins are doing on the stat sheet with Faith leading the league in points with 26.
Hawkins has 18 points and Allaire has 15.
Faith definitely has some more flash to his game, but Allaire and Hawkins seem to get the goals where you have to be willing to take a few extra bruises.
It’s really easy to forget how well Allaire is doing in the stat column with the physicality to his game standing out as much as anything else.
Here are some eye-popping stats from both. Hawkins has four power play goals, tied for third-best in the league. Allaire has four game-winning goals, which leads the CCHL.
Allaire has picked up points in 11 of Brockville’s last 14 games, while Hawkins has earned points in 12 of his last 16 games.
“We’re led by a great group of 20-year-olds and they’re committed to doing things properly and it’s their commitment that should be rubbing off on everybody else,” said Winchester.
DUE FOR A BREAKOUT OR SLIDE
The Braves are walking a fine line right now. Every game seems to be close these days. They haven’t won by more than two goals in their last five games with one of those being a loss.
That can only be sustained for so long. Sooner or later Brockville is either going to get some big wins or get a few extra losses to their record.
“It’s been a few games in the last little bit where we haven’t had a consistent 20-person effort. We’ve relied too much on a few guys and that’s not sustainable,” said Winchester.
CHANGE OF PP-ACE
Brockville’s power play hasn’t been stellar this year. The Braves had a lowly 12 per cent success rate on the man advantage going into Friday’s game.
Winchester decided to change things up on his power play units. On the first line, Parker Casey was the new man in to replace Hawkins and was put alongside Faith, Philippe Gilmour, Chris Brown, and Simon Mack. Hawkins joined Allaire, Tyler McBay, Evan Kula, and Josh Jones.
The change ended up working and the Braves went 2-for-4 on the power play.
“Jones on the point, I really liked him,” said Winchester. “We’ll get him there again.”
The Braves will travel to Ottawa to take on the Jr. Senators on Saturday. The game had a playoff feel to it with how fast paced it was the last time they met.
Brockville will hit the road again to take on the Smiths Falls Bears on Tuesday.
The Braves will return home next Friday to host the Nepean Raiders.
The Braves will be missing Simon Kerr for their big game against Ottawa on Saturday.
He was suspended for two games after a boarding call at the end of last Sunday’s home game against Smiths Falls. Kerr didn’t play Friday.
Not having the shutdown defenceman in the lineup is a huge loss for Brockville. He plays about 25 minutes a game and is, arguably, the team’s best blue-liner on a team stacked with very good defencemen.
“He’s a rock,” said Winchester. “Simple, hard, effective leader. It’s an opportunity for a new guy, Cosway, to come in and play a bigger role and it’s an opportunity to go after a challenge without one of our leaders and have someone else step up.”
Original story at Recorder.ca