The Junior B season is underway and St. Paul is off and running with a strong start.
The Jr. Canadiens boast a 2-0 record through the first weekend of NEAJBHL action after a 7-1 stomp vs the Cold Lake Ice and a tight 3-2 victory of the Lloyd Bandits.
The Canadiens travelled to Cold Lake for the season opener for Friday night and didn’t look back, controlling the pace of play for long stretches of the contest.
Zephrin Hachey scored the lone Cold Lake goal, the first of the game, at 4:26 of the opening frame, but Konnor Poitras responded five minutes later.
Brennen Riopel popped one in during the 2nd period and the Canadiens dominated the 3rd period with five unanswered goals, including a pair from William Chemago, for the win.
“I thought we had a slow start today, but we always seem to have a slow start in this rink. It could because it’s Cold Lake and how well they’re coached. But we got things going eventually in the 3rd and we prevailed,” said coach Corey deMossiac, who gave credit to the newcomers for stepping up in their first game.
“Our guys got going in the 3rd and I thought our young kids got us going early in the game. Poitras, Riopel, and [Parker] Sabatier were really good for us.”
Poitras hails from Elk Point and put up 25 points in 29 games with the U18AA Panthers last year.
“I want to be a strong power forward and get hard on pucks and score when I can. And get pucks in deep,” he told Lakeland Connect.
Cold Lake, who finished close on the shot clock 21-20 against St. Paul, liked how they came out of the gates.
“Our first two periods were solid. We kept in there. It was really close. By the 3rd period though they just outworked us,” said first-year Ice player Bret MacLeod.
“We can take the positives and the negatives out of the game,” said Ice assistant coach Chris Lacoursiere.
“Third period certainly didn’t go our way. But through two periods a 2-1 game, against a tough team over there, St. Paul has a good club, we just let off the gas a little bit. We lost a lot of 1-on-1 battles.”
Cold Lake sits 0-2 to start after falling 6-0 to the Killam Wheat Kings on Saturday night.
Vermilion Tigers roar in opener; Vegreville Rangers respond
The Vermilion Tigers welcomed the Vegreville Rangers back to the NEAJBHL by beating the returning club 6-2 on Friday night. Outshooting the Rangers 71-14 according to the NEAJBHL website, Tigers returning players Conner Roscoe, Jaden van Maarion, Rohan Quist, all scored in the first period.
Ryder Kenyon, who played with the Wainwright Bisons last year, and Brody Weitzel both added markers, before the Rangers got their first goal of the season from Devon Hamaliuk.
Lyndon Fadden added an insurance 3rd period goal as well.
But each team’s fortunes were reversed the following night.
The Tigers fell 7-2 to the Wainwright Bisons in a game where Vermilion was within one goal midway through the contest.
Meanwhile, the Onion Lake Border Chiefs’ return to the NEAJBHL was unceremonious, as the Rangers bounced back with a 5-0 victory in front of their home fans.
Carter Bergseth, Logan Bosch, Breck Hrehorets, Michael Jamieson, and Devon Hamaliuk provided the offence, while Keiran Caughran made all 16 saves for a shutout win.
The St. Paul Canadiens and Vermilion Tigers will play their home openers on Friday night: the Habs hosting the Wainwright Bisons and the Tigers welcoming the Killam Wheat Kings. Vermilion heads to St. Paul the following night.
Onion Lake plays its lone goal of the week tomorrow night in Lloydminster at 7:30pm. The Cold Lake Ice will also head to the Border City on Saturday night.
Vegreville will play the reigning NEAJBHL champs Bisons on Saturday, before returning home on Sunday to face the Wheat Kings.
St. Paul Canadiens coverage will continue on Lakeland Connect with Friday night game action.