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CJHL Hockey
Promising season comes to disappointing end as Grads shown early exit from playoffs
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

For the second year in a row, the Cumberland Grads have failed to make it past the quarterfinals, despite finishing first in their division.

Last year, the Grads were handed an early exit by the Hawkesbury Hawks with the coup de grāce coming in Game 6 which they lost 4-3 in overtime. This year they suffered a similar fate losing in six games to the Ottawa Jr. Senators, including a 6-5 defeat in double overtime Wednesday night.

The Grads were actually 1:06 away from forcing Game 7, when Jeff Carroll tied the game on a pass from David Walters.

Cumberland outshot the Jr. Sens 9-5 in the first overtime session, but couldn't get the puck past Niels-Erik Ravn. Ottawa was able to turn the tables on the Grads as the second extra session began to unfold and eventually their hard work paid off when Alex Poitras scored only his second goal of the series at the 11:47 mark of the period.

The Grads actually got on the board first when David Pacan scored a minute and 46 seconds into the game. The two teams then exchanged goals the rest of the way.

The Grads took a 3-2 into the second intermission after Michael Borkowski scored 16 seconds before the break. The lead was short-lived, however, thanks to Ryan Delorme who tied the game for the Jr. Sens at the 3:23 mark of the third.

Mathieu Ouellette's second goal of the game and team-leading fourth of the series put the Grads back in front a little over three minutes later, and it looked as though it might hold up for good until Carroll's goal late in the contest sent the game into overtime.

This year's playoff disaster was more shocking than last year in that the Grads were thought to be a bona fide contender. They had amassed the third best record in the league and they had won 12 of 14 games heading into the post season, with the two losses coming against the Pembroke Lumber Kings.

Although the Grads finished 15 points ahead of the Jr. Sens in the standings, they were only 4-2 against them during the regular season and three of their four wins were by a single goal.

A big part of the Grads' woes throughout the series was a lack of goal production from their top marksmen. Marc-Andre Labelle, Brock Plouffe and Jeffrey Clarke only had four goals between them in the six game series and Plouffe and Clarke's goals all came on the power play. Labelle was the only one of the three who scored an even strength goal. All three players were among the top seven goal scorers in the league this season.

The team should be in relatively good shape for next year although they'll have to replace Clarke, Chris Murphy and captain Andrew Klassen who will all be overage. At 19 going on 20, Daniel Sauve will be ready to take his rightful spot as the top defenceman in the league and Adam Laderoute, who will also be 20 next year, will provide the club with a steady and dependable presence between the pipes.

The biggest question mark is David Pacan who will likely be a third or early fourth round pick in this year's NHL entry draft. Pacan, who is ranked 60th among North American draft eligible players, has already signed a letter of intent to play Division I hockey at the University of Vermont.

However, it is not known whether he will join the Catamounts this September or will have to wait until the fall of 2010 in which case he would likely play another year with the Grads. It all comes down to whether or not a roster spot opens up in Vermont.

(Posted 4:30 p.m., March 19)

 

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