When the Ottawa Junior Canadians jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the opening period of the first game of the Eastern Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Metro-Valley Conference championship series Saturday night, maybe it left Renfrew fans wondering if the Wolves would be able to compete against the 2013 Metro champs.
The Canadians had built their lead without much resistance from a flat-footed looking Renfrew team, and goaltender Matt Gagne was left high and dry a few times.
But from the time Casey Doner scored to get the Wolves on the scoreboard and settled down, the game suddenly had a different look to it.
Doner walked in, made a deke and flipped a high backhander past Ottawa netminder Matt Couvrette late in the period.
The Wolves matched the Canadians on the scoresheet the rest of the way.
But the early 3-0 lead was just too much to overcome.
Canadians 6, Wolves 4
One thing the Wolves will have to do if they hope to win this series is slow down (nobody stops them) Ottawa snipers Taylor Collins, and comrades Jamie Molinski and Jordan Fequet.
All three had two goals at the Brian Kilrea (Canterbury) Arena Saturday. The former Arnprior Packer, Collins, – he of 300-points in his junior hockey career – also added an assist on Fequet’s game clincher with 4:51 remaining in the third period.
The goal came after Renfrew had twice pulled to within one goal.
Scott Conroy had a pair of goals for the Wolves, both in the third period.
Doner and defenceman Erik Mask added singles.
Down 3-1 after 20 minutes, the Wolves did a better job at generating scoring chances in the middle frame.
But penalties hurt as the Wolves were forced to kill off three in a row.
Fequet eventually upped the Ottawa lead to 4-1 when he one-timed a drive past Gagne, who had no chance on the play, with 1:07 left in the middle stanza.
Backed by a cheering throng of noisy Renfrew fans, the Wolves struck to two early goals in the final session.
Conroy scored his first at 2:19, and Mask followed suit at 5:53 to narrow the gap to 4-3.
However, Collins answered right away, just nine seconds later in a period of many mood swings.
The goal bent, but didn’t break the Wolves.
Conroy took a Mask feed and solved Couvrette through the pads on a breakaway only 53 seconds later. Now it was 5-4.
However, the Wolves caught a bad break when a Renfrew defender fell which created a 2-on-1 break for the city team. Fequet took a Collins feed and made no mistake, rifling a shot to the upper left-hand corner.
Despite their nasty start, the Wolves twice drew to with a goal in the third period.
That should give them some confidence for game 2 Monday at the Ma-Te-Way Activity Centre.
Game time is 8 p.m.
There is no word on the positive side as to if or when Jesse Riopelle and/or Drew Anderson might return.
The Wolves have to soldier on without them, at least for now.
When Ryan Eady wore the C in Riopelle’s absence during the clinching of the Valley Division title March 10 in Perth, it meant Eady captained the last two division champions with two different teams.
He was the captain of the Arnprior Packers last year.
• Saturday, March 16 - Ottawa 6, Renfrew 4;
• Monday, March 18 in Renfrew - 8 p.m.;
• Tuesday, March 19 in Ottawa - 7:15 p.m.;
• Friday, March 22 in Renfrew - 8 p.m.;
• Tuesday, March 26 in Ottawa - 7:15 p.m.;
• Friday. March 29 in Renfrew - 7:30 p.m. (Good Friday);
• Saturday, March 30 in Ottawa - 7:15 p.m.
Around the Loop
The Casselman Vikings and Athens Aeros open the Rideau-St. Lawrence Division championship series in Casselman tonight (Sunday).
The Vikings enter as defending EOJHL champions.
Athens has never won an EOJHL title, but have knocked on the door often.