Estevan, SK – The Ottawa Jr. Senators lost their first game of the Centennial Cup against the Manitoba Junior Hockey League Champions Dauphin Kings 2-1 on Friday afternoon.
Ottawa got off to a good start, getting a scoring chance on their first shift of the game when Julian Racine sent a cross-ice pass to Vincent Velocci who got robbed by Kings’ goaltender Carson Cherepak.
Near the 10-minute mark of the first period, forward Max Bush was looking to shoot the puck in the Kings’ end when he took a bad hit that resulted in an awkward fall. He did not return to the game.
“He went straight to the hospital and got an x-ray. We’re optimistic he’ll be back at some point in the tournament, but we won’t rush him back. The swelling will go down in the next couple of days so we should have a better idea at that point,” said OJS assistant coach Stuart Battrick.
The Kings would get a penalty with under a minute left in the first. During the man advantage, Philippe Jacques, with a wrister from the half wall, gave Ottawa their first goal of the tournament. The good side would lead 1-0 after the first period and all the coaches, including Battrick, were satisfied with the team’s start.
“We had 16 shots in the first and definitely outplayed them. We were really happy with the effort and the execution. But they made some adjustments and we didn’t react well. That’s when we started having problems.”
From the second period on, the Jr. Senators struggled to get any offense going. Dauphin’s neutral zone trap kept Ottawa away from the offensive zone. The Jr. Senators would kill off a big penalty, but the Kings would finally tie the game with a goal from Luke Morris early in the second period.
David Mabey had his second penalty of the game and Dauphin would take their first lead off a power-play goal from Nakodan Greyeyes. It would turn out to be the game-winner.
“We understand the importance of being the better team at even strength, but sometimes special teams can win you a game, even a tournament, so we definitely want to be better on the power play and penalty kill. And if the referees decide they are putting their whistles away, you got to play through everything. You have to play gritty and get the goals in some spots that players don’t want to go to, said Battrick. We just weren’t willing to do that today.”
Ottawa had a full period to orchestrate a comeback but it wasn’t meant to be. They only registered three shots in the first 16 minutes of the third period. For Battrick, it comes down to details.
“They made adjustments and we started turning the puck over, which is not our game. We protect pucks, we play the right way, we play behind it and cause turnovers. Today, we weren’t stopping on pucks quick enough.”
With the goalie out, Ottawa would put some pressure in the Kings’ zone in the last two minutes of regulation, but was not able to muster any in-tight chances. The player of the game for Ottawa was defenseman Robbie Stewart and for Dauphin, goalie Carson Cherepak.
After Ottawa outshot Dauphin 16-7 in the first period, but only had 15 shots throughout the last two periods, four of them with the goalie out. They did, however, outshot Dauphin 31-24. William Desmarais made 22 saves in the loss while Cherepak had 30 saves for his team’s first win of the tourney. Ottawa went 1-for-3 on the power play while Dauphin went 1-for-4.
The Ottawa Jr. Senators will play the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League runner-up Flin Flon Bomber tonight at 4pm MDT / 6pm EST. You can catch all the Centennial Cup round-robin games on the Jr. Senators Broadcast network at mixlr.com/ojsradio.