By: River Foster/Portage Online
Portage, Man. – The Ottawa Jr. Senators may not have had as much time to prepare as most teams vying for the Centennial Cup, but they are more than ready to hit the ice.
The Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) winners took down the Smiths Falls Bears 6-2 in Game 7 on Friday to secure their spot in the national tournament. Team Captain Wil Murphy says they went down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series but found a way to make the comeback.
“I just told the boys to win a playoff series it takes four games. I told them that there’s no team that’s going to beat us four times in seven games,” Murphy explains. “We had to believe and go back to our systems. We got away from them in Game 1, and that cost us. I told them we had to go back to what made us successful all year, and that’s what we did.”
Until their league finals, the Jr. Senators hadn’t faced much adversity throughout the season. Murphy believes this was exactly what they needed to get through before the Centennial Cup.
“Going through some of that adversity will definitely help coming here. It’s a short tournament. You have to get your head around it quickly, and you can’t dwell on games, win or lose. You can’t let things affect you going into the next day because you’re going to play a really good team on that day, too,” Murphy continues. “Battling through that is something that I think will help us. Getting to see how we respond in situations like that was definitely good for the team.”
Murphy and the Jr. Senators arrived in Portage yesterday, and they are very fond of the city’s atmosphere.
“When we dropped our gear off at the rink, everyone was so welcoming. Everyone said, ‘Hello’ and asked us how we were doing,” says Murphy. “Went through the rink, and it looks unreal. All of those seats are going to be filled with cheering fans, which is going to be a really cool thing to experience.”
Ottawa took part in the 2022 Centennial Cup in Estevan but didn’t fare as well as they hoped, going 1-1-2 in their four games.
“The boys are really excited. The returning guys are excited to have another shot at it. We didn’t really like how we played last year. We had a couple of injuries and didn’t play our best. This time all these guys, and the new guys, want to go out and show that the CCHL is a league that can compete with all the other leagues in the CJHL.”
He notes they want to play loose, limit their mistakes, and, most importantly, have fun. Murphy believes if they stick to what got them here, there is a solid chance they can head back to Ottawa as national champions.
“I would say we’re a very structured team. High attention to detail. We roll four lines and six D. We have two very, very capable goalies. We don’t really have any superstars but everyone knows their role and plays that to the best of their ability. The coaching staff puts everyone in a position to have success.”
The Ottawa Jr. Senators will make their Centennial Cup debut Friday morning at 11:30 against Cobras de Terrebonne.