Canadians nab silver in home tournament

Lucas Punkari

The first taste of tournament play for the Fort Frances Midget ‘AA’ Canadians didn’t end according to plan, but overall all parties involved were pleased by their effort.
The Canadians finished with an overall record of 1-2 in the fifth-annual Gus Lindberg Memorial tournament here over the weekend, which was good enough for second place behind Wayzata.
“Obviously, we would have liked to have won the whole thing but this is still pretty nice to come away with a trophy,” said Canadians’ captain Jacob Hawley.
In the final game of the tournament Sunday, the Canadians only could watch as the Wayzata Jr. Gold erased the home squad’s early 2-0 lead, courtesy of Nolan Ross, with seven unanswered goals to jump out to a 7-2 lead in the third period.
Even though Brody McPherson and Brandon Sinclair scored later on in the frame, the five-goal deficit proved too much to overcome as the Jr. Gold captured the title.
“I think the main difference in this game was with our body contact,” Hawley noted.
“We were finishing our hits and winning the battles on the wall in the first and third period, and that kept us in the game during those parts of the game.
“But when we got away from doing that, we got into some problems and they pulled away from us,” he added.
“In today’s game, we proved that we can skate with them [Wayzata],” said Canadians’ head coach Dave Egan.
“But some lapses in our skating and some penalties that we took proved to be costly for us,” he remarked.
The offensive firepower exhibited by the Jr. Gold was something their opponents felt first-hand all weekend, as they hammered the Canadians 9-3 in the tourney-opener Friday night and then throttled the Current River Comets (Thunder Bay) 11-4 on Saturday evening.
“I’m very impressed with the way that the guys can put the puck in the net, especially since this is our first few games of the season,” lauded Jr. Gold head coach Tim Olson.
“We haven’t had a team in recent years that has the goal scorers that we have on this team, and the guys that we have can just pick their spots,” he added.
Following their 9-3 drubbing to Wayzata on Friday night, the Canadians bounced back in a big way Saturday morning against Current River, earning a narrow 4-3 win that assured them of a second-place finish.
“From my years of coaching, I know that a team from Thunder Bay is always going to be a rugged one, and that is exactly what they were,” Egan noted.
“I wanted the boys to stay focused and composed out there against them, and they did exactly what we wanted them to do and they handled the other team nicely.”
“When we lost to Wayzata on Friday night, a lot of the guys on the bench were done, and our coach said that some of us quit out there, and that just gave us some added motivation,” said Ross.
Ross was the pace-setter for the Canadians on Saturday morning against the Comets, hitting the twine three times.
“I felt pretty good out there but I actually think some luck had to do with that, as well,” he admitted.
“I worked with guys like [Brandon] McGinnis, Brody [McPherson], and Sam Berube during the game, and they have a lot of speed.
“And they like to get in deep on the forecheck, which was a great help to me getting that hat trick,” he reasoned.
“I’ve said in the past that both Nolan and his brother [Davis] bring a lot of energy to the team,” Egan added.
“Every time they step onto the ice, they bring a lot of energy, and they also never take a shift off, which helps to get the entire team going,” he explained.
With their home tournament now in the books, the Canadians will hit travel to Duluth this weekend for a tournament that starts Friday.
Despite the fact they were runners-up in their first tournament of the season, Egan feels his squad still has some work to do as they get ready to head south.
“We’ve got to learn to play better in our end, which is our weakness right now, and that is something we are going to be working on this week,” he stressed.
“We can skate with all of those teams that are going to be down there in Duluth, but we need to make sure that our fundamentals and our play all over the ice is good, especially in our own end.”
“It’s going to be a lot of hard work but if we play all three periods in our games, I think that will be they key for us and [whether] we do well,” reasoned Hawley.