It was all too good to be true.
3 minutes remained in the 3rd period, with the Carleton Place Canadians on top. Only the clock setting them apart from an RBC Cup. Then, it all came crashing down in just 8 seconds.
The Yorkton Terriers scored two goals late in the 3rd period, tying the game at 3 and sending the majority of Kal Tire Place into a frenzy. With the game forced into overtime, the Terriers’ Derek Falloon would capitalize and end the Canadians’ record breaking season, winning the RBC Cup in the process.
Heading into the 3rd period with a 3-1 lead, the Canadians had only blown a final stanza lead once before this season in 58 games. The second time was tonight.
All odds were defied as they so often are in the wonderful world of junior hockey.
However the Canadians played what was arguably their best game of the season up until the 57th minute of regulation. They had held the Yorkton Terriers off, something that they had been unable to do in the round robin, when they fell to the Terriers.
It started off with a goal from the veteran Anthony McVeigh at the 9:26 mark of the 1st period, taking a feed from Luke Edwards and roofing it over the shoulder of Yorkton goalie Kale Thomson. The overager McVeigh was in his final stretch as a junior hockey player during this run and he made the most of it, scoring his second big goal in as many games to give Carleton Place a 1-0 lead.
The Canadians weren’t giving the Terriers much. If it weren’t for some puck luck in favour of Yorkton, CPC may have run away with the game.
A shot desperately thrown toward the net by Yorkton’s star defenseman Chase Norrish was deflected in. Daylen Gatzke got a stick on it and directed it through the legs of Guillaume Therien to tie it at one near the 15 minute mark of the first.
As mentioned above, it seemed as though that series of lucky bounces let the Terriers back into the game. However, the Canadians found themselves back in the lead shortly after the 2nd began.
First, CCHL playoff MVP Stephen Baylis took a feed from Evan Peterson and beat Thomson with a quick release against the grain for Carleton Place’s 2nd goal.
Then, from one MVP to another, Andy Sturtz gave the Canadians their 3-1 lead just 6 minutes later. The highlight reel goal showed why Sturtz was named the CJHL’s MVP, as he danced around two Yorkton defenders and backhanded it passed the outstretched Kale Thomson.
The goal put him on a point per game pace for the RBC Cup. At the time, it gave the Canadians a stranglehold on the game, inching closer to a national title.
As the 3rd period began and slowly wasted away, time became a factor for Yorkton. At the same time, the Canadians eagerly awaited the clock to tick down, closing in on their first national title.
However, with three minutes left, Tanner Lischynsky took a feed from below the goal line, blowing it by Therien and making it a one goal game.
Fans would have thought “maybe we’ll get some overtime tonight”, if they had a chance to do so.
Before they did, the Terriers struck again, tying the score at 3 a split second after Lischynsky. Dylan Johnson played the role of regulation hero, as he poked at a puck that was lying between the feet of Larry Smith, forcing it over the line.
Just like that, we were headed to overtime.
Not only did the goal that tied the game prove that a game is never over until it’s over, but it reinforced that hockey can be the cruelest game of them all in these situations.
The Terriers took the momentum and didn’t let up, creating multiple scoring chances throughout overtime, not giving Carleton Place much of an opportunity to counter back as they forced neutral zone turnovers and peppered Guillaume Therien.
Then finally, at the 15:01 mark of the first overtime period, Derek Falloon claimed the title of extra time hero. A jam play in front finally broke the seal of Therien and gave the Yorkton Terriers a national championship, winning the RBC Cup in the most dramatic fashion possible, 4-3.
The Canadians watched the celebration, stunned in disbelief. It seemed as though just a few moments prior, they were cruising through the final 20 minutes on their way to hoisting the coveted championship.
As much of a disappointment it seems to be, the RBC Cup loss is not all bad for the Carleton Place Canadians.
Of 127 Junior A hockey teams in Canada, only one team proved to be better. This includes all clubs in western Canada, which is known to pump out some very competitive teams traditionally superior to those in the east.
The Canadians turned heads all over Canada and the United States, dazzling both fans and scouts with a complete package of scoring, grit and tenacity. If you factor out the dynasty in Pembroke, Carleton Place has made it further than any CCHL team since 1995, when the Gloucester Rangers suffered the same fate losing in overtime to the Calgary Canucks.
While the Canadians won’t have three new banners to hang in the rafters of the Carleton Place Arena, the Fred Page Cup and Bogart Cup winners will still go down in history as one of the best CCHL teams in a long time.
All that separated them from a national title was eight endless seconds.