Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
The Brockville Braves were expecting a high-scoring game against the Pembroke Lumber Kings on Friday at the Memorial Centre, said head coach Jesse Winchester, and that’s exactly what they got. Fortunately for the Braves they were able to score a few more than their opponents on way to winning 7-4 and snapping a three-game losing streak.
“I kind of thought it would play out like it did. A lot of offence and a lot of chances,” said Winchester. “We played hard and we played well.”
Both teams took their turns with the momentum, but Brockville, for the most part, controlled the majority of the game.
Braves captain Fred Allaire opened the scoring by cleaning up a rebound while standing on the doorstep of the crease less than three minutes into the first period.
The Lumber Kings tied the game nine minutes later when Jacob McIntyre scored a goal short-side on goalie Antoine Bourdeau that he probably should have saved.
Mathieu Halle, playing in just his second game since returning from a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for almost two months, put the Braves back on top with three minutes left in the opening period when he fired a shot from behind the net that bounced off goalie Darian McTavish’s skate and into the net.
The scoreboard lit up like the Rockefeller Christmas tree in the second frame with six goals between the teams.
Brockville’s Chris Brown and Allaire began the goal parade in the first-half of the period, but it was the last five minutes when the floodgates really opened.
Lumber Kings Connor Warnholtz started it with a goal that was originally called off because of a high stick, but the referees changed the decision after discussing the play for a minute. The goal immediately became moot when Braves Justin McRae found the back of the net 10 seconds later.
Warnholtz cut into the deficit with two minutes left in the second period, but, again, McRae put his team back up three goals about a minute later.
Warnholtz completed the hat-trick early in the third period to give Pembroke some life in potentially extending their six-game win streak, but it was put on ice when Brown scored an empty-netter.
AWARE OF ALLAIRE
The Braves captain does a lot of things to stand out every game. He hits, pesters, stands up for his teammates, and provides a certain intensity on a regular basis.
He doesn’t have to score consistently to make an impression, but when he does it puts him on another level.
Allaire has now scored five goals in the last five games.
The two goals he scored Friday were his 17th and 18th this season to give him the team lead in the category, taking over from Eric Faith. Allaire now sits tied for fifth in the league for goals.
“He plays the game the right way. All his goals are scored from right around the net,” said Winchester. “A lot like a Brendan Gallagher with the Habs. He gets hungry, he’s feisty, he’s competitive, and gets in the dirty areas.”
ENDING SOME DROUGHTS
Brockville hadn’t scored more than four goals in almost a month. Consistent scoring has been a problem for the Braves as of late with only a few players carrying the bulk of the load.
Some players stepped up Friday that were in a major drought going into the game.
Faith, who had just two points in the last eight games, had four assists Friday.
McRae hadn’t scored a goal in the nine games since coming to Brockville, but he found the back of the net twice in the recent win.
Brown hadn’t found the goal column in the last eight games, but added two to his tally Friday.
“It’s nice to see McRae and Brown because they’ve been snakebitten. They’ve each had quality chances the last little bit,” said Winchester.
Braves starting goaltender Liam Souliere didn’t play or dress Friday. It would have been his first game back with the team since returning from the World Junior A Challenge.
He ended up getting injured at the international tournament and hasn’t practiced with the team yet.
Winchester said Souliere won’t dress for Saturday’s road game against the Hawkesbury Hawks.
The coach is hoping he’ll be ready after the two-week holiday hiatus, which will start for Brockville after Saturday’s game. They won’t return to action until Jan. 4.
HAWKINS GETS AN A
Braves Nicholas Hawkins was surprised with an A on his jersey before Friday’s game. He takes over the assistant captain role from Philippe Gilmour, who was traded to the Cornwall Colts about a month ago.
The 20-year-old has been solid in his sophomore season with Brockville, racking up 10 goals and 19 assists in in 34 games.
“It’s well deserved,” said Winchester. “He’s been solid for us, he has a great attitude, he prepares the right way, he practices so hard, and sets that pace for us. He’s just a really great kid and he does things properly. Those are the type of guys we want.”
Original Story at Recorder.ca