JR. SENATORS BLANK TERRIERS IN NJAC OPENER
BROOKS, Alta. – Francis Boisvert made 20 saves for the shutout, backstopping the Ottawa Jr. Senators to a 3-0 win over the Portage Terriers in the opening game Saturday afternoon at the 2019 National Junior A Championship.
The Jr. Senators have already accomplished something they didn’t a year ago in Chilliwack, B.C. – winning in regulation time. All four Ottawa games in the preliminary round went to overtime in 2018 (it went 2-2).
Darcy Walsh, Élie Boulerice and Kyle Jackson had a goal and an assist apiece for the Jr. Senators, who became just the second team to shut out the Terriers this season, and the first since Swan Valley on Jan. 19.
Ottawa wasted no time taking the lead; a mishandled puck at the Portage blue-line squirted through to Walsh, who went five-hole on goaltender Nathan Moore just 74 seconds after the puck dropped.
That was it for offence through the first 40 minutes, although both teams had their chances; the Jr. Senators hit a pair of posts behind Moore, while Boisvert sprawled to make a right-pad save on Scott Mickoski on a second-period power play.
Boulerice added insurance early in the third period, deftly redirecting a Bailey Brant shot past Moore, and Jackson wired in the 3-0 goal from the high slot with just over five minutes to go.
The Jr. Senators smothered Portage in the final frame, allowing just two shots on goal.
Ottawa held a 28-20 advantage in shots overall.
The East Region champions will enjoy an off day Sunday before taking on the Prince George Spruce Kings in the lone game Monday (7 p.m. MT), while the Terriers are back in action Sunday night against the host Brooks Bandits (7 p.m. MT).
BANDITS SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN TO BEAT BLADES IN NJAC OPENER
Luke Bast scored two goals and set up another, and the Brooks Bandits used a five-goal first period to earn a 7-3 win over the Oakville Blades to wrap up the opening day Sunday at the 2019 National Junior A Championship.
Bast has scored in both games he has played at the tournament – as a 16-year-old affiliate at the 2017 event, he netted a goal in his lone appearance.
In all, the Bandits got goals from six different players and points from 13 to improve to 3-1 in tournament openers.
The scoring started very early, but it was the Blades who got the early advantage; off a lost face-off, Josh Nixon found a loose puck and beat Pierce Charleson from a sharp angle only 11 seconds in.
Brooks answered back with a pair of goals just 26 seconds apart – Bast stretched to poke in the 1-1 goal, and William Lemay tucked in a rebound – only for Thomas Maia to redirect a redirect past a helpless Charleson at 4:04.
Ryan Mahshie gave the hosts the lead for good with a power-play goal at 11:27, Mack Hancock went off the post and in 41 seconds after that and Nick Hale went bar-down on the short side at 16:25 to send Brooks to the intermission with five goals on 13 shots and a three-goal lead.
The scoring subsided in the second period, with each team netting once.
Maia got his second of the game on the power play just past the 11-minute mark when his shot hit a Brooks stick, ticked off the post and crept across the goal-line, but Bast drove hard to the net for his second late in the middle frame to make it a 6-3 game after 40 minutes.
Brandon Scanlin capped the scoring midway through the third period, stepping into a loose puck and hammering a shot past Oakville goaltender Will Barber.
The Bandits dominated the third period, outshooting the Blades 13-2. They had a 34-20 edge overall.
Brooks is back in action Sunday night against the Portage Terriers (7 p.m. MT), right after the Blades take on the Prince George Spruce Kings (2 p.m. MT).
“You could see in the first period, both teams were nervous, tense and the passes weren’t great. We told the guys to keep it simple, but we weren’t good at all, losing a lot of battles. I thought Portage controlled the play and then in the third – our best period with the shots 13-2 for us – we spent the majority of time in the offensive zone; it’s tough to get scored on when you spend time in the offensive zone and that was the plan.”
– Martin Dagenais, Ottawa head coach, on the opening-game win
“In a tournament like this where nerves are at an all-time high, it’s a big weight off our shoulders to get a goal early and I think it settled everyone down a bit. We didn’t really know too much about Portage coming in. I knew they were big, fast and skilled and obviously a good hockey club – they’re at nationals – but not much else. Going into the game we were focussed on what we had to do as opposed to the other team.”
– Darcy Walsh, Jr. Senators captain, on the importance of opening with a win
“I thought the first period was a bit of a mess, but it is young guys with emotions and trying to figure out what it was going to be like here. It’s a home game, but it’s different and the players managed it well. We were good enough to score five (in the first period) so we’ll take that. Even after getting scored on first, we just needed to be resilient. We knew we weren’t going to go through the tournament and not get scored on and it was just how we were going to respond, and I thought we did a good job.”
– Ryan Papaioannou, Brooks head coach, on managing the emotions of the game