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Welcome home: Braves win opener 4-2 over 73s – Recorder & Times

Recorder & Times – Jonathon Brodie

If Friday’s 4-2 win over the Kemptville 73s is what the Brockville Braves look after five games in a week’s time then the performance should definitely have been enough to whet a fan’s appetite to want to see what this team can do on much shorter rest.

Whether the Braves were on a high from their home opener or running on their last fumes, Brockville was the better team Friday night at the Memorial Centre.

The Braves came out of the gates strong with Jonathan Hill and Joshua Spratt giving their team the lead in the first period.

It would have been understandable for someone to assume Brockville was running on the adrenaline of the big introductions or having to perform in front of the 1997-98 team that won the club’s first Fred Page Cup, but although the Braves faded a bit in the second period, they hardly burned out and were leading 2-1 after 40 minutes.

In the third period you would have figured Brockville would be peeling themselves off the ice, playing 304 minutes of hockey in seven days. It turned out the final frame was arguably their best period of the game.

In the opening five minutes of the third period the Braves attacked, forcing 73s netminder Peter Brooks to make a handful of very difficult saves until Philippe Gilmour finally broke through by getting a rebound sitting on the doorstep of the crease.

The 73s — who were playing their fourth game in a week and are still looking for their first win — inched closer to a comeback when Alec Taillon put the puck past netminder Justin Evenson, but Gilmour sealed the win for Brockville with an empty-netter.

“They’re 19-year-olds, they’re fine. They’re ready to play another one,” said Braves coach Jesse Winchester with a smile when asked how tired his team was. “It was a game of ebbs and flows. We dominated for good parts of it, but we also took our foot off the gas a little too much. It’s something to focus on moving forward, but I really liked how we competed at the end of the game.”

The game wasn’t always pretty for Brockville, but it was far from ugly.

There were some passes off the mark, but the Braves certainly didn’t look like a team that only has five returning players.

They definitely didn’t look like a roster that has only skated together for about two weeks when 73s Jacob Thousand laid a hit in the first period and ended up having five Brockville players swarm him.

There was some defensive lapses at times by the Braves, but they didn’t look like a club that had just gotten beaten out 2-1 on the road against the Cornwall Colts 24 hours earlier.

In just a week’s time, Brockville has show some resiliency. Last year they always seemed to lose in bunches, but in the early season the Braves have stringed together solid performances after their two losses this season.

“We definitely want to get as many points as we can off the start and show other teams we can compete in this league,” said Braves forward Eric Holland. “We want to be a top team in this league.”

Brockville will now get a much-needed break and won’t step back on the ice for some action until next Friday when they take on the Ottawa Jr. Senators at the Memorial Centre.

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