For the second consecutive season the Ottawa Junior Senators fell short in the National Junior A Championship Semi-Final dropping a heartbreaking 4-3 decision to the host Brooks Bandits Saturday at the Centennial Arena. The Bandits will now move on to face the Prince George Spruce Kings in Sunday afternoon’s title game.
The Senators got off to a rough start as Simon Boyko capitalized on a turnover and beat tournament MVP Francis Boisvert on a breakaway early in the opening period. Before the frame had ended, Ray Christy added another to give the Bandits a 2-0 lead after the first. After falling behind by three early in the second the Senators notched a power-play marker from Kyle Jackson on a tremendous feed from Captain Darcy Walsh to keep the deficit at two heading to a wild third period.
Brooks extended their lead to three goals on a power-play early in the third before an Ottawa comeback, that has exemplified their never quit attitude all season, brought them agonizingly close to tying the game in the dying seconds. Geoffrey Dempster began the comeback scoring short-handed after stealing the puck from a Brooks defender and beating Pierce Charleson with a low shot. Three minutes later during a mad scramble in the Bandits end, Conor Smart re-directed a Bailey Brant shot from the point and the Senators were within one.
The Junior Sens had a few opportunities to knot the game at four, most notably with under ten seconds remaining, Jackson took a feed and fired a one-timer that Charleson slid over to make a game-saving stop to deny the Sens the equalizer and send the hometown team into the Championship Game.
“I thought our guys left everything they had on the ice today,” said a disappointed Head Coach Martin Dagenais. “I am extremely proud of our team. No one expected us to win a Bogart Cup, let alone reach the National Semi-Finals. We gave arguably the best team in Canada a heckuva game in their home rink.”
Dagenais thanked the graduating and non-returning players following the game,”You don’t replace kids like Bouly, Walsh and Bisson, who have been in our organization for four years, very easily. They are quality players on and off the ice and have helped establish the OJS name across the country and make it a destination for players to come and play.”
The General Manager and Head Coach is confident that the group of players returning can maintain the level of play established over the last number of years. “I like the core of guys coming back and we have a few recruits signed that I believe can give us some depth. We will obviously have to make a few additions to replace the players who are moving on but I am confident we can be a strong team again next season.”