Char-Lan Rebels upset Glens, advance in playoffs
BY SEAN BRAY Sports Editor The Char-Lan junior ‘B’ Rebels hockey team advanced to the CCHL2 Martin Division semifinals, to tangle with the league’s top-ranked club, the Ottawa Jr. Canadians, following an upset victory in the best-of-three wildcard series over the rival Alexandria Glens.
The Canadians lost just five times in 44 regular-season games, amassing 79 points.
Char-Lan finished the campaign at the .500 mark, with 44 points.
The teams met four times, with Ottawa sweeping the season series and outscoring the Rebels 21-6. Two of the losses were lopsided, while the others were close, at 4-3 and 2-0.
Their semifinal series is a best-of-seven affair, scheduled to begin last night, March 5, on the road in Ottawa. Char-Lan gets to host game two on Thursday, March 7, at 8 p.m. For the full schedule, see the inset box. Canadians home games are played at the Earl Armstrong Arena ( 2020 Ogilvie Rd, Gloucester).
In terms of their respective finishes in the regular-season standings, the Alexandria Glens should have had the advantage heading into the CCHL2 wildcard playoffs.
The Glens finished six points higher than the Rebels and were 29 goals better in goals for/against differential.
Alexandria’s apparent advantages, though, including two of the three games on home ice, seemed to matter little when the action hit the ice, as Char-Lan won both games at the Glengarry Sports Palace, by way of shutout.
Rebels goaltender Grant Craig was a fortress in the first and third matches, stopping a combined 78 shots. In his lone loss, game two in Williamstown, he turned aside 24 of 28 pucks sent his way.
The wildcard series opener on Feb. 26 was a thrilling netminder battle, as Craig and Rousseau kept snipers at bay through two periods.
The Glens dominated the offence over that stretch, outshooting the Rebels 29-13.
Penalties, a bugaboo for the Alexandria boys all season, reared their ugly head in the third frame, of which the Glens played nearly half short-handed.
As a result, Char-Lan controlled much of the offensive play this period, and with their fourth power-play opportunity of the game, the Rebs got one past Rousseau, as Brennan Markell scored what would stand as the game’s only goal.
Alexandria native Mathieu Sabourin, who plays for Char-Lan, wired the puck in from the blue line off the end boards, where Markell collected it, wristing past the outstretched arms of Rousseau.
The Glens managed just five shots on goal in the period, unable to muster the fire in their bellies they had through 40 minutes.
Game two, in Williamstown two nights later, saw more goal scoring, as the Rebels drew even in the series with a 4-3 overtime victory.
Craig’s shut-out streak ended at 72 minutes, when Alexandria Glen Tobias CommandaOdjick scored his team’s first of the series.
At the the time, the Glens were playing desperation hockey, trailing the game 2-0, as Char-Lan’s Liam MacDonald and Markell had both scored earlier.
Penalties in this one proved key, with CharLan capitalizing twice on the man advantage, in six opportunities, while the Glens nabbed the game-winner on an OT power play.
Alexandria drew even and then took the lead in the second period, with the visitors dominating, as Maverick Baxtrom and Reggy St-Surin scored.
Sabourin notched the equalizer for CharLan at the midpoint of the third, eventually forcing the game into an extra session, where, 5:45 in, Cedryk Miron found a loose puck and flipped it past an unsuspecting Craig.
Dylan Stacey had sent the initial shot on net, with the puck disappearing in a crowd of bodies, before Miron’s heroics.
The Glens piled onto the ice to celebrate the win that forced the deciding third game back in Alexandria on March 1.
In front of nearly 600 fans, Craig put on another goaltending clinic, stymieing the Glens in what was a high-tempo and, at times, physical contest.
A nasty unpenalized hit behind the CharLan net during the second stanza left Commanda-Odjick and Glens trainer Jamie Lavigne searching for some missing chiclets. The player skated off the ice under his own steam, returning for the third frame with a new facial cage affixed to his helmet.
Frustrations continued for the Alexandria side too, as despite firing 19 shots at Craig in the period, they couldn’t get anything past him.
Meanwhile, the Rebels played a patient game. Char-Lan had just four shots on goal in the first frame, increasing that to 11 in the second, when, with 2:49 left, the Rebels got control from an offensive zone faceoff, and Sam Ferland capitalized, Markell and Isaac Testani earning the assists.
A two-on-one break 4:42 into the third saw Ferland feed Testani to double the lead. Markell also picked up a helper.
The Alexandria side responded with some offensive pressure on a mid-period power play, but failed to score.
With 1:40 left in regulation, the Glens were able to pull their goalie in favour of an extra attacker, and once again they had some pressure, until the puck squirted out of the zone, corralled by Markell who picked his spot for the empty-netter, icing the 3-0 victory.
Craig’s series record gave him a 1.29 goals against average and a 0.962 save percentage, while Rousseau chalked up a 1.96 GAA and a 0.921 save %.
NEXT DEADLINE: Monday, March 11, noon
PLAYOFF CHAMPS: Char-Lan District High School’s boys hockey team successfully defended its SD&G title. Standing in back, from left, are Darrell McDonell, Seamus O’Connell, Cole MacCrimmon, Thomas Pasco, Nat Faubert, Kurt Alexander, Roan MacLennan, Donovan Francis, Andrew Dirven, Lachlan McDonell, Andrew Dixon, and Sean O’Farrell. Kneeling are Danny Flaro, Connor Macdonald, Aiden Leroux, and Jack MacLachlan, and in front is Hunter Mader. Absent from photo: Ethan MacDonald