The Carleton Place Canadians had a large hill to climb in order to get where they are today. A slow but gradual accent up the standings over their 5 years of existence has finally given Jason Clarke what he has strived for – a Bogart Cup.
The Canadians did so by defeating the Smiths Falls Bears in 5 games, winning the fifth game via overtime goal. It was the second year in a row that the CCHL title has been won on an OT game winner.
It didn’t come easy for the Canadians in the early rounds of the playoffs, with a gruelling 7-game battle against the Pembroke Lumber Kings in round 2. Many around the league said that PLK would give the Canadians the most trouble in the playoffs. Reflecting back on the run that was, nobody can dispute that claim.
Let’s not take away from the effort of the Bears either. As a well-coached team by Mark Grady, the Bears fought well in their second round series leading up to the final, as they wore out the Ottawa Jr. Senators and beat them in 7 games.
It seemed for a while that they were going to climb back into the final series as well.
After losing game 3 in the dying moments with a goal in the late stages of the 3rd period from CPC superstar Evan Peterson, the Bears built off of that effort and forced a game 5, winning one at home.
However while they won at the Smiths Falls Memorial Centre with their season on the line, they weren’t able to do so in game 2. Playing against a Carleton Place squad that is built for their smaller home rink, they had to win in the much larger SFMC due to the big bruising CP defenders like Larry Smith and Elias Ghantous thriving on the small ice of the Carleton Place Arena.
They were unable to do so and despite a valiant effort in game 5 that led to extra time, Vinny Post found himself with a wide open net and the puck on his stick. He made no mistake and won the Carleton Place Canadians their first ever Bogart Cup.
But that doesn’t spell the end of the season for the Canadians, as they still have lots of hockey to play if they’re looking to finish their season on a winning note.
They’ll now move on to the Fred Page Cup, which starts next week in St-Jerome, Quebec; featuring the best teams from Eastern Canada. Not only do they get to continue to play, but every game gets harder from here on out.
There are multiple unknown variables that accompany the Fred Page Cup for teams in the CCHL. It starts with the unfamiliarity of the other teams competing.
Other than the teams in the CCHL, there are no others from Ontario vying for a spot in the Fred Page Cup. This can work to the disadvantage of the CCHL for a couple reasons.
The main issue is the quality of hockey out east (if you could call it an issue). In the Maritime Hockey League, the playing field is full of ex major junior players, with a good chunk of those coming from Ontario.
Daniel Walsh and Clint Windsor are two alumni of the Ottawa 67’s that have since travelled out east and are now playing for the Amherst Ramblers and Miramichi Timberwolves respectively. Along with Clint Windsor, Chris Festarini is another former OHL goalie now playing in the MHL.
Both the teams involved above and their opponents directly benefit from playing with or against these players. This brings a challenge forward that Carleton Place will have to battle through and counter with their own abilities, which have occasionally been likened to those of lower-end CHL squads.
CPC’s first game will be next Wednesday evening, as the St-Jerome Panthers (Host) host them at Aréna Melançon. This presents another hurdle for the Canadians will be tuning out the rowdy fans of the LHAAAQ.
Follow me on twitter @96Nellis for up to the minute updates on the Carleton Place Canadians’ quest for the Fred Page Cup!