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Brockville’s James Walker battles Rockland Nationals Matthew Vermaeten along the boards during Friday’s game. (Jonathon Brodie/The Recorder and Times)

Power play shines in Braves 6-3 win – Recorder & Times

Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times

The Brockville Braves power play has been dismal all season, but on Friday it was out in full force on way to beating the Rockland Nationals 6-3 at the Memorial Centre.

The Braves converted goals on all five of their power play opportunities in the game with the special teams putting up at least one point on the scoreboard in each period.

Brockville’s strength on the man-advantage is a huge boost for them. They went from being dead last in the CCHL power play standings at an 11 per cent success rate going into Friday’s game and by the end of it they shot up to a 13.8 per cent and tied for 10th.

“It was clicking,” said Braves coach Jesse Winchester. “We made them a line — Mike McArthur, Eric Holland and Jordi Jefferson — and they’ve just clicked and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come. They had some jump and they were real sparks for us.”

The Braves opened the game with a power play goal by captain Andrew Jarvis midway through the first period and closed out the frame with another special team marker off the stick of Holland to tie the game 2-2.

Jefferson, who had five points for Brockville in the game, picked up a goal on the man-advantage four minutes into the second period and it was 16-year-old defenceman Zac McMahon getting the Braves only even-strength goal with his first of the season to help his team to a 4-3 lead going into the last 20 minutes of regulation.

Brockville closed out the game with Jonathan Hill scoring his 14th goal of the season, a league-high for CCHL defencemen and tied for a team-high for all skaters, on the power play before Eric Holland got his second goal on the man-advantage in the closing minutes.

“(The power play) is the same setup except it went in tonight and last night and hopefully it gives them some confidence because for a while there we were struggling and it was costing us a few games,” said Winchester. “Especially when the other team scores on the power play and we can’t answer, but it’s in the past and hopefully we can continue to grow. There’s enough talent there we should be able to put the puck in.”

For most of the season the Braves power play has been a bone of contention and in a lot of ways it was puzzling the pieces weren’t quite fitting.

Brockville is one of just four teams in the CCHL with a positive goal differential, but their power play has never really consistently clicked. They’ll pick up a point here and there and then go silent for long stretches of time. For a team that has been given the second-most power play opportunities in the league that can hurt.

The Braves power play’s pulse has been moving in November even if you exclude Friday’s five-goal game. The Braves so far this month — if you don’t include Friday’s win — had scored five power play goals in 34 chances for a 14.7 per cent success rate across seven games. That’s not a great statistic, but it’s a lot better than the six power play goals they put up in October in 51 opportunities for a 11.8 per cent rate across 11 games.

“You need it if you want to be a winning team,” said Winchester. “Some days we’re good 5-on-5, but if we can’t distance ourselves with the power play then our record isn’t going to do very well. We’ll stick to it and it’ll be a work in progress for the year.”

The Braves will hit the road Sunday to take on the Hawkesbury Hawks before returning home Friday to host the first-place Carleton Place Canadians. The Braves played the Canadians at the Memorial Centre on Sept. 22 and arguably played their best and grittiest game of the season and beat the CJHL’s top team 3-2 in a shootout.
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