The St. Paul Jr. B Canadiens rallied hard in the last half of the season to climb the Northeast Alberta Jr. B Hockey League (NEAJBHL) standings to secure a third place final heading into the playoffs. Playing out their final three games of the regular season against Killiam, Wainwright, and Lac La Biche, the Habs secured 3 points with a regulation loss, a shootout loss and a win.
Game 1 vs Killiam
The Canadiens took to the road on Friday evening, falling 6-3 to the Killiam Wheat Kings. After staying toe-to-toe with the Wheat Kings in the first period, the Canadiens dropped three goals in the second and were unable to fully recover. Scoring for the club on Friday was Braydon Burak, Zach Bendall, and Bailey Lonsberry.
“The game wasn’t our best. All the guys in the room and the coaches would agree with that. Hopefully, we can limit our mistakes [for the rest of the weekend.” Assistant Coach, of the Canadiens, Travis Rollheiser says the club is going to have to put the game behind them to be successful in the rest of the weekend.
Game 2 vs Wainwright
“We haven’t been able to beat these guys, yet,” Assistant Coach Rollheiser says he would love for the team to break Wainwright’s 24 game win-streak. “It might not mean a whole lot to those guys, but it definitely means a lot to us and where we can end in the standings.” The Habs were able to collect one point in the evening, after taking Wainwright to a shootout; falling 5-4 in the end.
Alexander Astasiewicz started the game strong for the Canadiens with an unassisted goal at 9:05 in the first. The goal was answered by Wainwright’s Kobe Scott before the close of the first. The club then allowed the second period to get the best of them again. Letting in two unanswered goals to close 40 minutes of play 3-1, in favour of Wainwright.
“We got to start getting more pucks in front of the net and more traffic in front of the net,” assistant captain, of the Canadiens, Zach Bendall says the club is going to have to dig deep for those pucks to be successful in the third, “every shot we’ve taken so far has been on the outside. We’re going to have to get in there.” After a period with 18 minutes in penalties, Bendall adds the club is going to have to “stay out of the box,” and be more disciplined in the last 20 minutes of play.
The Canadiens kept it much cleaner in the last period of the game and it proved successful. Brendan Wozniak fired away to start off the third with a goal for the home team. Assist to Orrie Wood and Arron Gagne. Followed closely by Braydon Burak (assist Dyson Roy and Bailey Lonsberry, to make it a tie game. Wainwright’s Zach MacKay had a short-lived go-ahead goal then was neutralized by Arron Gagne, with Brendan Wozniak and Orrie Wood on the assist. It was a tie game, 4-4, after 60 minutes of play.
After an intense overtime and still no scoring, the game went into a shootout, with the sole goal breaking through by Wainwright’s Chandler Klein. Head Coach, Joe Young says he was pleased with the effort, “we were basically playing the best team in the country. Being down by two goals in the second and coming back showed a lot of resilience from my guys. We came in tonight knowing we needed a point and luckily we battled back against a really good hockey team.”
Game 3 vs Lac La Biche
The outcome of St. Paul’s playoffs were on the line Sunday afternoon. Should the Canadiens be successful, they would meet rivals the Cold Lake Ice in the first round of the playoffs. Should they fall, they would meet the Lac La Biche Clippers in the first round. “I don’t think you pick your poison, as to who you want to play, but you do want to finish as high up in the standings as possible, to secure home ice and momentum.” Head Coach, Joe Young, says the club was determined to secure that third place finish and they did with a 3-2 win over the Clippers.
Isaac Barr, with the Clippers put in the first goal, past Michael Davis. It was answered before the close of the first from Arron Gagne with Zach Bendall on the assist. This time around, it would be the Canadiens who would prove strong in the second period, putting in two unanswered goals to take the lead 3-1. Dyson Roy and Arron Gagne put in the goals for the club. The Clippers would get a final period goal, but not enough to take the Habs. It was a 3-2 final for the Canadiens.
“We’ve played well lately, we’ve been on a pretty good roll. People ask me, ‘who do you want to play?’ and you’re not picking who you want to play, you want to play your best hockey, going into the playoffs. And that’s what it came down to.” Coach Young says playing their best hockey secured that third spot in the NEAJBHL. The Canadiens will meet the Cold Lake Ice in the first round of the playoffs, with home ice advantage, the dates/times have yet to be announced.