comes to disappointing end as Grads shown early exit from playoffs
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.
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.
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.
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.
p.m., March 19)
www.orleansonline.ca's main page