Tuesday, 12 May 2015

RBC Cup - Canadians Fall and Canadiens Fall

Day Four of Canada's National Junior-A tournament is in the books, and the standings have a very different look to them today. In a rather surprising turn of events, HBIC correspondent Jeremie Gauvin didn't file a report from today's games. I assume he was busy and not banned by Hockey Canada from contributing, but I'll have to follow up and find out where his report went. In any case, there were two games on the schedule today that had major impact on the standings, and the results have shaken up the tournament. There was also a Canadian team eliminated in the NHL, so I'll have a small blurb about that at the bottom. However, let's check out what happened in Portage la Prairie today!


This game had big ramifications on the standings based on the results. If Penticton downed Carleton Place, there would be two teams tied at 2-1 with Penticton holding the tie-breaker in head-to-head matchups over the Canadians. However, if the Canadians downed the Vees, Carleton Place would be 3-0 while Penticton would sit at 1-2 and be in danger of in being in the bottom-half of the standings or, worse, missing the playoff round. Carleton Place had yet to surrended a goal in the tournament, so Penticton would have its work cut out for them in this game.

Things looked grim for Penticton by taking a penalty just 20 seconds into the game. With Dakota Conroy sitting for a hooking penalty, the Canadians took a 1-0 lead on Andy Sturtz's power-play goal at the 30-second mark. Penticton, though, wasn't fazed and became the first team to snap Guillaume Therien's shutout streak at 125:09 when Cam Amantea netted his first goal of the tournament to knot the game up at 1-1. But 4:55 later, the Canadians restored the one-goal lead when Adam Lloyd notched his first goal of the tournament to send the two teams into the dressing rooms with Carleton Place holding the 2-1 lead.

The two teams came out flying in the second period as they both looked to add to their respective totals. Carleton Place's Owen Stewart was whistled for high-sticking at 3:22, sending Penticton to the power-play. They would not fail. Some good puck movement resulted in Steen Cooper firing home his first goal of the tournament with the man-advantage at the 3:40 mark, and the two teams were tied back up at 2-2. Penticton, feeding off their growing momentum, seized the opportunity once more as Riley Alferd scored his first goal of the tournament at the 7:49 mark to officially become the first team to lead over Carleton Place in the tournament. And not only did they lead, but they carried the play for the vast majority of the period, out-shooting Carleton Place 12-6 in the frame and 23-12 after 40 minutes!

The third period was more of the same in terms of the relentless attack from the Vees. They would see it benefit them again as Connor Chartier picked up his second goal of the tournament at 5:21, beating Guillaume Therien with a nice redirect through the wickets after some excellent work by Steen Cooper along the wall to set him up. The Canadians would cut the lead to 4-3 just 58 seconds later with Riley Alferd watching from the sin bin for a slash. Stephen Baylis went nearly end-to-end on a rush and beat Hunter Miska with a shot I'm sure he'd like back, but it was a 4-3 game off Baylis' stick with 13:41 to play. Miska, though, would hold the fort the rest of the way, and Penticton would skate off with the 4-3 victory to their credit!

With the biggest win of their tournament play yet, Penticton moves to 2-1 while Carleton Place drops to 2-1 with their first loss in the event. Hunter Miska stopped 15 of 18 shots that he faced in the win while Guillaume Therien stopped 25 of 29 shots in a losing effort. Penticton is off until Thursday when they play in the early game against the Soo Thunderbirds. Carleton Place will be back on the PCU Centre ice tomorrow as they battle the 1-1 Melfort Mustangs in the only game scheduled for Wednesday.


The Soo Thunderbirds needed a big win over the host Portage Terriers to avoid falling to 0-3 and potentially right out of the tournament. The Terrier knew they needed a win after seeing the Vees and Canadians square up at 2-1 records, so they looked to keep pace. A loss would put Portage in serious jeopardy of missing the playoff round altogether as the Thunderbirds would hold the 1-2 tie-breaker over the Terriers.

The first period was a pretty good indicator of how this game was going to go. Portage came out flying, and the Thunderbirds simply tried to weather the storm. Brad Bowles opened the scoring for the Terriers at the 7:47 when he redirected a centering pass from Shawn Bowles, and the Terriers were off and running. Grant Valiquette would make it a 2-0 Portage lead when he took a pass at the blueline on a broken play from Carson Perreaux, put a little shimmy move on the Thunderbird defender, and wired one past Mario Culina at the 15:16 mark. That 2-0 lead would hold through the rest of the period in which most of the great scoring chances were for the Terriers.

The second period saw the fans at the "Dog Pound" on their feet early thanks to a penalties assessed to Soo's Brett Jeffries for tripping at 19:02 of the first and Caleb Boman at the end of the first period for roughing. Just 47 seconds in, Tanner Jago had his second goal of the tournament as he one-timed a pass from Zack Waldvogel from the high slot that Culina may not have seen on the five-on-three, and it was a 3-0 game. The Thunderbirds dug a little deeper after that goal, and they were rewarded at 2:21 when Anthony Miller picked up his first of the RBC Cup as he poked home a puc off the end boards as Portage netminder Zac Robidoux wasn't tight to the post. Despite the miscue by Robidoux, Portage still led 3-1 and would regain the three-goal advantage. Brad Bowles would pick up his second goal of the game at the 6:25 mark when his centering pass when off Andrew Barbeau and into his own net. The scoring in the second period wouldn't be done, though, as Portage made it a four-goal game at the 18:11 mark when Carson Perreaux, off a save by Culina, picked up his own rebound and jammed it home for his first goal of the tournament. The fans had barely stopped cheering, though, when Soo would respond on the two-on-one. erick Hillock would poke hom a rebound off Joey Miller's shot, and it would be a 5-2 lead for the Terriers after two periods.

Caleb Boman would commit another offence at the end of the second period that would carry over into the third period as he sat for less-than-two-minutes for hooking. Why less-than-two-minutes, you ask? Just 1:07 into the period and with 13 seconds left on the man-advantage, Jordyn Boyd one-timed a feed from Kevin Pochuk at the faceoff dot, and it was 6-2 for Portage. And to cap off the night, Brad Bowles would pick up a loose puck at center ice while shorthanded, and he went high on the glove side to make it 7-2 and to cap off his hat trick! Mario Culina's night would be over, finally, with that goal as Brian Kment took over. Four shots and 7:48 later, the final horn would sound on a 7-2 win for the Terriers.

Portage improves to 2-1 with the victory as Zac Robidoux made 15 saves on 17 shots. The loss by the Thunderbirds officially eliminates them from the playoff round as they can't win any of the tie-breaker situations regardless of the outcome in their final game. Culina, who made several impressive saves in the game, took the loss as he stopped 23 of 30 shots. Kment, as mentioned, was four-for-four in his time in the paint. Portage will play the Melfort Mustangs in the final game of the preliminary round on Thursday evening while the Soo Thunderbirds will close out their RBC Cup tournament against the 2-1 Penticton Vees on Thursday afternoon.

Canadiens and Canada Out

With their rather disappointing play tonight, the Montreal Canadiens will go back to Montreal to clean out their lockers rather than playing a Game Seven. All five of the Canadian teams who qualified for this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs are done. I'm not here to beat the drum about how the Stanley Cup belongs in Canada or any of that garbage. Each Canadian team was beaten by a better team, and that's what happens in the playoffs.

To the Ducks, Blackhawks, Lightning, and the winner of the series between the Rangers and Capitals, you've all earned the right to be competing for your respective conference's championship banner. I expect nothing short of another round of great hockey from four great teams. For Canada, take comfort in knowing the Stanley Cup will roll through Canada once more as each of these teams has Canadian players on it. It just won't fly under the flag of a Canadian team. And that's ok.

That's sports in a nutshell.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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