It has taken 86 games and 364 days, but the Carleton Place Canadians have made it all the way back.
One year ago, the Canadians were just two minutes and 40 seconds from winning the RBC Cup in their fifth year of existence before the Yorkton Terriers
scored twice in eight seconds to tie the game and eventually won the national title in overtime.
Seven players who were on the ice for the 2014 RBC Cup championship game returned this season, along with another four players who were with the team in
Vernon, B.C., so there was no shortage of experience.
That experience will come in handy Sunday night when Carleton Place meets the host Portage Terriers with Canada’s 45th National Junior A Championship on
“When you've got 11 guys that have played here before you're going to have that experience,” Carleton Place head coach Jason Clarke said after the
Canadians’ semifinal win. “And that experience is exactly what got us on top.”
Just as they did last season, the Canadians ran roughshod over the competition in the Central Canada Hockey League, posting a league-best 49-10-3 record to
once again win the CCHL regular season title.
Andy Sturtz, who was named CJHL MVP and RBC CJHL National Player of the Year in 2013-14, returned and once again led the Canadians in scoring, with captain
Stephen Baylis also cracking the top 10.
Carleton Place made quick work of the Nepean Raiders in their CCHL quarter-final, outscoring the Raiders 21-5 in a four-game sweep, and pushed aside (at
least temporarily) the Fred Page Cup hosts, the Cornwall Colts, in a six-game semifinal series.
Matched up with the Pembroke Lumber Kings in the CCHL final, the teams split the first two games, each winning on home ice, before the Canadians took
control, winning the final three games by a combined 19-9 to clinch their second consecutive league championship and another berth at the Fred Page Cup.
The literal road to the East Region championship was a short one for Carleton Place, which made the 152-kilometre journey to Cornwall and opened with wins
over the MHL champion Dieppe Commandos and LHJQ titlist Collège Français de Longueuil to earn a spot in the regional final.
The Canadians jumped to a 2-0 lead over Dieppe with a spot at the RBC Cup on the line, only to see the Commandos erase the deficit with two goals in the
early minutes of the third period.
With overtime looming, Willie Brooks converted on a Carleton Place power play to give the Canadians a 3-2 win, back-to-back Fred Page Cup championships and
a second straight berth at the national tournament.
Carleton Place wasn’t just happy being in Portage la Prairie, and wasn’t just happy winning games; the Canadians started out by making RBC Cup history,
becoming the first team since the 1995 Calgary Canucks to open its schedule with consecutive shutouts, including holding the Terriers off the scoresheet
for just the second time all season, and the first time at the PCU Centre.
“We know that when we play our A game we can be very tough to beat and we proved that … playing against Portage and holding them to 13 shots,” Clarke told
the Ottawa Citizen.
A pair of losses – including an overtime setback to the Melfort Mustangs – closed the preliminary round, leaving the Canadians matched up with the
Penticton Vees in the semifinals.
Guillaume Therien – named Top Goaltender at the tournament awards banquet – was spectacular again, following up a 46-save performance in the OT loss to
Melfort with 36 against the high-powered Vees, and Jordan Larson’s goal at 3:43 of the second overtime capped a 2-1 win and sent the Canadians to the
Carleton Place is the first team to reach the RBC Cup championship game the year after losing since the 1998 South Surrey Eagles, and they’re the third
team to accomplish the feat since the host team was added in 1985.
The good news? Both previous teams (Penticton in 1986 and South Surrey in 1998) won the national championship on their second try.
HOW THEY GOT TO PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE
Central Canada Hockey League
Quarter-final: defeated Nepean 4-0 (7-1, 5-1, 6-1, 3-2)
Semifinal: defeated Cornwall 4-2 (4-1, 1-4, 6-1, 5-3, 1-3, 3-1)
CCHL championship: defeated Pembroke 4-1 (5-2, 4-6, 5-3, 6-3, 8-3)
Fred Page Cup
Round robin: first place – 2-1 (defeated Dieppe 3-1, defeated Longueuil 4-2, lost to Cornwall 3-2)
Championship: defeated Dieppe 3-2
Record: 49-10-3 (1st in CCHL)
Goals for: 245 (2nd in CCHL)
Goals against: 131 (1st in CCHL)
Power play: 61 for 302 (20.2% - 4th in CCHL)
Penalty killing: 297 of 336 (88.4% - 1st in CCHL)
Longest winning streak: 10 (Oct. 13-Nov. 9)
Top 3 scorers:
Andy Sturtz – 30G 42A 72P (6th in CCHL)
Stephen Baylis – 32G 37A 69P (10th in CCHL)
Adam Lloyd – 29G 27A 56P (21st in CCHL)
Goals for: 82
Goals against: 44
Power play: 21 for 109 (19.3%)
Penalty killing: 69 of 85 (81.2%)
Top 3 scorers:
Stephen Baylis – 11G 16A 27P
Andy Sturtz – 9G 15A 24P
Vinny Post – 8G 13A 21P
NATIONAL JUNIOR A CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY
2014 – Carleton Place Canadians | runner-up | 3-3 | 19GF 18 GA
PLAYERS TO WATCH
intelligent … two-way forward … plays a 200-foot game … excellent work ethic … competes hard … good leadership skills … plays in all situations … good
offensive instincts … protects the puck well
always a threat to score … quick hands … hard, accurate shot … excellent vision … fast and agile … sees the ice very well … offensive catalyst … tough to
knock off the puck … uses teammates well
quick, athletic goaltender … good size … good anticipation … very quick from post to post … competes hard for space around the net …good vision … good
rebound control … good communication