By Darren Desaulniers – Ottawa Citizen
The Ottawa Junior Senators are moving on to the Central Canada Hockey League final, and awaiting them for the third straight year are the four-time defending champion Carleton Place Canadians.
The Jr. Senators survived a scare as the Brockville Braves forced a deciding seventh game after being down three games to one in the league semifinal.
Finn Evans scored twice as the Jr. Sens won Game 7 by a 5-1 count Wednesday night at the Jim Durrell Complex.
“Everyone on our team did a really solid job and my goals were from just in front of the net and we have such a talented group anyone could have put those in the net but I was just fortunate enough to be there,” said Evans, who joined the team midway through the season coming over from the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL.
“That was a group effort and every gave their all from the goalie out and everyone in that room was happy with their game. We thought we were playing good hockey all through the series but we just weren’t getting the bounces.”
Nick Lalonde, Pierre-Luc Veillette and Griffin McGregor also scored for Ottawa while Connor Hicks made 16 saves.
Jordi Jefferson had the lone goal for the Braves while Justin Evenson was pelted in goal for a seventh straight game making 37 saves.
The Jr. Sens have lost the previous two league finals to the Canadians, last year in five games and in a tight seven-game series two years ago.
The Canadians disposed of the Rockland Nations in five games in their best-of-seven opening round series and then swept the Hawkesbury Hawks in the semifinals.
The Jr. Sens needed six games to oust the Pembroke Lumber Kings in their opening series before being taken the distance by the Braves, who had swept the Kanata Lasers in the first round.
The Jr. Sens looked poised to claim the series last Friday at the Jim Durrell Complex, leading the series 3-1 and Game 5 3-1 heading into the third period. They lost Game 5 6-5 in overtime and then lost Game 6 in Brockville 4-2 on Tuesday as the Braves scored twice in the dying minutes including once into an open net.
Like Game 5, the Jr. Sens took a 3-1 lead into the second intermission Wednesday. Unlike Game 5, they didn’t play arguably their worst period of the season and held on for the win.
“Probably the worst,” coach Martin Dagenais said of the effort Saturday. “We were prepared this time. We did a better job as coaches to make sure the guys were focused for the last 20. I think we got over confident on Saturday and that’s I think why it went seven. Lesson learned and I think tonight in the third we didn’t give them anything.”
Evans scored his second of the game at 10:14 of the third before McGregor scored into an empty net with 1:17 to play.
Evans opened the scoring when he tipped a point shot past Evenson for a 1-0 lead at 13:33 of the first period. Lalonde made it 2-0 with the Jr. Sens’ second power-play goal of the period when he beat Evenson through a screen at 15:13.
The Braves caught a break early in the second period and cut the lead to 2-1 just 58 seconds into the period when Jefferson scored. Hicks appeared to have stopped the sharp-angle shot, but the puck fell in behind Hicks and barely went across the goal line.
Ottawa restored their two-goal lead at 4:22 when Veillette scored on a breakaway beating Evenson stick side about two feet off the ice.