After a dominant performance against the Burlington Cougars Saturday, the Toronto Junior A Canadiens dropped their home opener 4-0 to the Oakville Blades Sunday night.
The Canadiens entered Sunday night’s game full of confidence after a 7-0 victory just 24 hours earlier. Perhaps too much, according to captain Anthony Repaci.
“I think we were on an emotional high,” said Repaci. “Some of the guys came in wanting to do that again, but that wasn’t the case, they were on us all night and we didn’t get any bounces.”
That confidence faded pretty quickly Sunday as Blades’ forward Ross Sloan opened the scoring just 1:14 into the game, capitalizing on a juicy rebound. The goal was a hard one to swallow for the Canadiens and seemed to give Buckingham Arena an early silence.
Being the first home game of the season an early goal against was a real blow to the Canadiens, something head coach Mario Cicchillo says he has always found to be the case.
“My thing is always, if were the visiting team going into the home team’s building we want to score right away, just like we did last night,” says Cicchillo. “Last night against Burlington we scored right away and it gives you momentum, so that’s what happened tonight, they score a goal on us within the first five minutes and now they’re skating a little bit faster.”
The Canadiens didn’t help themselves as they failed to connect on the power play despite having eight opportunities with the extra man. Repaci accredits the lack of success with the special teams to the tight play of the Blades’ penalty killers.
“We had a lot of chances, but last night we had lots of time with the puck and tonight they didn’t give us anything, so I think that through us off a little bit,” says Repaci. “They didn’t give us a lot of time and space with the puck and that caused a lot of turnovers.”
Defenceman Matthew Ferrari said the team simply didn’t get enough rubber towards the net.
“The first couple periods we had four powerplays and only five shots,” said Ferrari. “So we need to get more shots, that will give us more scoring chances.”
It was not just the special teams that need to improve as the season moves along, but the team’s play all over the ice.
“The whole game … we’ve got improve on everything,” said Cicchillo. “Forecheck, d-zone coverage, powerplay, penalty kill, it’s certainly early in the year and that’s what we’re here to do is teach.”
The coach has been proud of how his team conducts itself on the bench, liking how they refuse to get down on themselves.
“They still stay positive,” said Cicchillo. “No matter what the score was tonight, the boys were still keeping positive on the bench and that’s a bonus.”
Canadiens found themselves on both sides of the win/loss column this weekend, which was a real learning experience.
“What they don’t understand is this is a good league,” said Cicchillo. “They win a game last night 7-0 and they’re still kids. A little bit too over confident and think it’s’ always going to be easy like that, but look what happens.”
The Canadiens will be back in action Friday when they welcome the Hamilton Red Wings to Buckingham Arena, puck drop is at 7:30pm.
Game Notes: Canadiens goaltender Nathan Colitto made 34 saves on 38 saves in a losing effort … Blades goaltender Daniel Mannella made 17 saves for the shutout … Blades Ross Sloan and Christian Rajic led the way offensively with a goal and an assist each … Canadiens Will Lawrence and Blades Cole Robbins were both assessed a game misconduct in the third period, each for hitting from behind … The win was the Blades first of the season after dropping their first two games.