When a team is riddled with injured players, that last thing you’d expect is for it to thrive.
The Carleton Place Canadians have done just that.
With injuries that began piling up in December, the Canadians have made a third-consecutive run at the RBC Cup after finishing the regular season at
43-16-3 before defending their Central Canada Hockey League and Fred Page Cup titles.
They’ve played with a depleted line-up for the better part of the season, namely without two veteran forwards.
It was right before Christmas when Vinny Post had his campaign end due to a knee injury.
“One day in practice, it just kind of popped and there goes his season,” said Carleton Place captain Jordan Larson.
Andrew Dodson, another key Canadians veteran, was also sidelined in December. He went into the boards awkwardly in a game on Dec. 13. When he got up, he
couldn’t move his arm. Dodson’s shoulder was dislocated.
His original prognosis would’ve allowed for a playoff return. When he began skating harder and harder in practice, a recurring pain in his shoulder
prevailed. An MRI later revealed a labral tear, a shattered humorous and a torn bicep tendon.
“Finding that out a couple months later was really rough,” said Dodson.
But instead of being a burden to success, the injuries to Post and Dodson united the team and ultimately helped propel the Carleton Place to a
third-consecutive appearance at Canada’s National Junior A Championship.
Though unable to participate on the ice, the veterans have been anything but absent. They attended the majority of the team’s remaining regular season and
playoff games, as well as the Fred Page Cup, the regional precursor to the RBC Cup. They were in the stands willing their teammates forward, and in the
dressing room post-game keeping their spirits high.
“They’re still the biggest leaders on the team,” said Larson. "They’re still there to cheer the boys up after a big loss or pump us up for a win. We have a
group chat and they’re always texting before the game ‘good luck’ and that they love us and they’re behind us. They’re still with us every single night.”
Though Post was unable to accompany his teammates out west, his presence is still felt.
“Vinny’s not here but he hasn’t gone a day without texting the group chat or texting at least one of us,” said Larson.
Furthering the close ties despite Post’s physical absence, Carleton Place players now wear shirts with ‘DFIV – Do It For Vinny’ written on them.
“He would’ve loved to be with us out here and he’s not. So you know what? We’re doing it for all of them,” added Larson.
After accompanying his teammates to the Fred Page Cup in Woodstock, N.B., Dodson’s original plan was to return home for rehabilitation. He changed his mind
on the final day of the tournament.
“I knew that some people don’t get a chance to go to the RBC Cup once in their lifetime. This would be my third,” he said. “I just knew that in twenty
years from now when I look back, I’ll be able to say I had the opportunity to go. I just didn’t want to regret my decisions so I decided to come and
haven’t doubted myself.”
Head coach Jason Clarke wasn’t surprised by the gesture.
“It just shows the kind of character of the guys and how tight this team is. He wanted to be around the guys, experience it and help some of the rookies
get through it, and give his experience to the new guys,” he said.
“It’s not shocking that he wanted to come to the tournament. Andy’s been in our program for three years and we’ve got a really tight culture here and a
Dodson is more than happy to support his squad from the sidelines, but readily admits that he misses being on the ice alongside his teammates.
“I’m just beyond helpless in the stands. It’s a lot more stressful watching. That’s for sure,” he said.
To improve on a 0-0-1-2 record and pursue the ever-elusive RBC Cup, head coach Jason Clarke knows his team can’t dwell on the injuries that have
accumulated in the past six months.
“It’s disappointing. That’s all you can think of. Once disappointment goes through, we just figure out how we’re going to get through it,” said Clarke.
“The guys have done a very, very good job of stepping up and insuring those positions. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”
Broken bones have been known to become stronger during the healing process. The Canadians suffered numerous proverbial broken bones since the beginning of
the season, and despite a timid start to RBC Cup in Lloydminster, they feel they’re as strong as ever, thanks in part to unrelenting support.
“It’s pretty special that they’re still here and still putting smiles on our faces,” said Larson.
“The tournament hasn’t gone our way but we’re going to turn it around and these guys are helping out a lot.”