Image credit: St. Paul Canadiens Facebook page.
The hopes of a long playoff run for the St. Paul Canadiens began on Wednesday night with a 4-3 against the Lloydminster Bandits.
Game 1 of the opening series saw the Canadiens score early but were pressed by the Bandits, who tied the game on separate occasions, before Orrie Wood potted the eventual game-winner at 12:00 in the second period.
Netminder Bradley Mistol made 25 saves including every shot he faced in the third period and Lane Wycotte and Brayden Goulet each had a goal and an assist in the victory.
Coach Shawn Germain thought Game 1 was an indication of what to expect throughout the series.
“They’re [Lloydminster] extremely hard working. Ever since about the halfway point they’ve really strung together a lot of wins over good teams, so we knew we were in for a battle. We’re looking forward to that challenge,” said Germain, who was named NEAJBHL Coach of the Year earlier in the week in his first season.
“I thought it was a typical playoff game. We were able to jump out to an early lead. We expected some pushback from them, which they did. They’re a very hardworking team and they never go away. So we expected that back and forth, typical playoff game. We were able to hold on in the end, but we’re looking forward to Friday night.”
The Canadiens swept the season-series against the Bandits four-nothing, ending the year on an 8-2 run for 3rd place in the league.
Lloydminster, who finished 6th, comes into the series 8-5 since Dec. 15, getting wins over the Wainwright Bisons, Cold Lake Ice, Killam Wheat Kings, Vermilion Tigers and Vegreville Rangers down the stretch.
St. Paul’s home cooking has been pretty good too as the Canadiens boast a 10-3-3 home record at the Clancy Richard Arena ahead of Game 2 on Friday.
“We gotta do the things we’ve been doing all year. A lot of times the effort is there every night. We just got to work on our execution and execution of our systems, our passing, those little things within the game that maybe go unnoticed. But we really got to do that against this team because they are skilled and they are hardworking,” said Germain.
“Just a lot of the same things that we’ve been preaching. We got to get pucks deep and get pucks to the net. It sounds really cliche but it is winning hockey.”
Degraves, Goulet receive recognition
A couple of St. Paul Canadiens earned all-star team recognition on Wednesday.
Young defenceman Nathan Degraves was named a 1st team all-star while captain Brayden Goulet got 2nd team honours up front.
Degraves scored nine goals in 30 games this season from the backend and had the second most points from a defeneceman in the league.
Goulet finished second in team scoring with 37 points on the year.
“He’s [Degraves] been an anchor for us back there at 16 years old. He’s just done a phenomenal job of just improving his game every day and like I said, really anchoring us back there,” said Germain.
“What can you say about Brayden Goulet. Just a fantastic kid, great leader. He’s obviously got quite a bit of skill. He puts winning above everything. You never hear him talk about individual things.”
Coach Shawn Germain took home Coach of the Year in his first season, carried by a 20-8-4 record good enough for third place overall.
“It’s obviously a huge honour. I feel like there’s a lot of coaches in the league that deserve the same thing. More than anything, I think it’s a testament to the guys and how they’ve worked all year and my awesome staff I have around me. “