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CJHL Hockey
Grads open playoff run with impressive win over Jr. Sens
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

This is the second year in a row that the Cumberland Grads have gone into the CJHL playoffs as a high seed and with high hopes. Last year their hopes were dashed when they were handed an early exit by the Hawkesbury Hawks.

With last year's first round knockout but a distant memory, the 2008-2009 Grads were intent on starting off on the right foot when they faced the Ottawa Jr. Senators in the first game of their quarterfinal series on Sunday.

And get off on the right foot they did as they totally dominated the Jr. Sens through the first two periods on their way to an impressive 6-4 win.

The Grads were on top of the Jr. Sens from the opening face-off which resulted in a number of early scoring chances. Mitch Gallant scored the Grads' first goal at the 7:22 mark of the opening period, when he banged home a shot off a scramble in front of the Ottawa net.

Goal number two was a combination of hard work, a hard shot and great hand eye coordination. Mitch Miller supplied the hard work by digging the puck out of the corner and throwing a pass to Daniel Sauve whose blistering shot from the point was tipped in by Jeffrey Campbell.

The fans barely had a chance to get back to their seats after the first intermission when Brent Bisdee took a pass from Marc-Andre Labelle and snapped a shot past Jr. Sens goalie Niels-Erik Ravn to give the Grads a three goal lead.

Ottawa finally got on the scoreboard at the 3:11 mark of the second period when Aaron MacLeod scored a power play goal on a seeing eye shot that Grads' netminder Adam Laderoute never saw.

Cumberland re-established their three goal lead five minutes later on beautiful pass from Daniel Sauve down low to Jeffrey Clarke who scored from a near impossible angle.

Defenceman Andrew Klassen then gave the hometown team a four goal cushion when he took a pass from Mathieu Ouellette, who was stationed on the goal line, and beat Ravn with a wrist shot glove side.

Up 5-1 heading into the second intermission, the Grads very nearly self-destructed in the third period thanks to a false sense of security that allowed the Jr. Sens to get back into the game on a pair of goals by Maxime Pilon and Nicholas Belleville.

The Grads briefly stemmed the tide on a power play goal that was set up by Chris Murphy who chipped the puck off the boards near the red line and then outraced the Jr. Sens forward on the play to retrieve the puck and pass it across to Brock Plouffe who was steaming towards the net and easily scored.

The goal would come up huge a little over a minute later when the Jr. Sens scored to once again cut the Grads' lead to two. As the rest of the game played out the Grads managed to protect their advantage before skating off with a 6-4 victory.

After the game Grads head coach Mark Grady had a lot of nice things to say about his team's play in the first two periods but was less than impressed with their play in the third.

"We sat back. We took a couple of undisciplined penalties. You can't do that when you get to the playoffs. We're going to get a reputation as a team that is soft in the third period and eventually that's going to catch up to you," said Grady.

On a more positive note, Grady liked the way his team charged the net and the fact that he got scoring from all four lines.

"I thought we got on them hard. I think their defencemen were wishing they were playing a different sport," said Grady.

Both teams will go at it again tonight at the Jim Durrell Recreation Centre on Walkley Road. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

(Posted 1:30 p.m., March 9)

 

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