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Ryan McCracken photo
Ryan McCracken photo
St. Paul Canadiens forward Jamie Wozniak has a puck deflect off the heel of his skate before skipping into the net, lifting the Habs to a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vermilion Tigers at Elk Point's A.G. Ross Arena on Friday.
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Habs win overtime thriller in Elk Point

Dec 03, 2013 11:30 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

The St. Paul Canadiens have been out to prove they aren’t the same team that finished at the bottom last season, and they did just that with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Vermilion Tigers in front of an Elk Point crowd on Friday night.

“It was a fun game to play. The guys were excited, the last time we played Vermilion they beat us and we had a little bit redemption on our minds,” said Young. “What I’m basically seeing is that a lot of guys are taking a lot of pride in playing this year. They’re working their tails off, and you do that and compete hard and good things are going to happen for your hockey club, and for individual players.”

Last season the Habs fell victim to a brutal 13-2 thrashing at the hands of the Tigers at A.G. Ross Arena in Elk Point, but this year was much different.

After a scrappy but scoreless first period, the Canadiens grabbed control of the game on a power play goal from Mikael Beaudoin, assisted by Tanner Hellquist.

Less than three minutes later, the Habs jumped back onto the power play, and Beaudoin potted his second of the night to give St. Paul a 2-0 lead.

With just under seven minutes left in regulation, the Tigers found the board, as Jesse Lemko just managed to sneak a puck past Habs netminder Evan Joly, and only 28 seconds later, the Tigers did it again on a goal from Taylor Heck.

“Just basically a few brain farts,” Joly said of the quick two goals from the Tigers, adding that after the last meeting with Vermilion, he was determined to pick up a win in Elk Point. “We lost last time 6-0 to them and I wasn’t too happy about that, so I really wanted to come out and show a good performance, and I really wanted to play well in front of the Elk Point crowd. It was awesome playing here.”

Despite the two-quick goals by the Tigers, the Habs put forth a strong defensive game, and managed to shake off the painful mishap to keep the focus on grabbing two points.

“We quit playing for about five or 10 minutes, we let them dictate the play and we were sitting there watching, we were a little fatigued,” said Young, adding the scrappy first half of the game led to a number of misconducts, leaving the Habs with a shortened bench. “With all the garbage that went on early, our bench was pretty short, but overall I can pretty much guarantee that if this had happened to us last year, we would have just folded and we wouldn’t have got the two points out of it. We’re starting to show some character.”

After regulation time expired, the teams took the ice for four-on-four overtime, and the Habs clinched the victory with their first shot of the frame.

As Tyler Bunce entered the Tigers zone on the rush, he threw the puck on goal just as Jamie Wozniak was crashing the net. The puck took a deflection off the heel of Wozniak’s skate and skipped past Tigers’ goaltender Brendan McCambly.

“It felt great, especially when that goalie’s got a mouth. The mouth of a sailor that’s for sure,” said Bunce, adding that he was pretty sure the overtime goal went off Wozniak’s skate. “I fired it and it hit a couple of legs. I know it went off someone’s skate.”

Wozniak said that he was just crashing the net, and didn’t even feel the puck take a deflection off his skate.

“I didn’t feel anything but I was told that it went off my leg. I’m not sure what happened, I was just going to the net and Bunce went to pass to me and I’m told it went off my leg,” said Wozniak.

Wozniak, an Elk Point native, added that it was great to come out and pick up a win at the A.G. Ross Arena, especially alongside his brother, and Habs’ captain, Jordyn Wozniak.

“I haven’t played here for a while, so to come out flying like we did, it felt good,” said Wozniak, adding he hasn’t played in the A.G. Ross Arena with his brother since they were in Atom. “It was nice to be in the home town barn again and play with family.”

Despite being outshot 42-25, the Habs were led to victory by a strong defensive effort and a solid performance between the posts from Joly. He and Jared Lafond have made a formidable goaltending tandem for the Habs after the team lost last season’s rookie of the year Austin Rediron, who moved up to Junior A.

“They’re absolute beauties. They’re both such great kids and they’re both overall great (goaltenders),” Bunce said. “Obviously we miss Aussie (Rediron), but both these guys cover for him great.”

The Habs will return to the Clancy Richard Arena on Saturday to host the Killam Wheat Kings at 7:30 p.m., and Young said that the team is excited to return home after a series of grueling road trips.

“A positive is that in January and February we’re home most of the time, but it just gets so monotonous. With guys working in this league, that’s tough sledding going on the road for a six-seven game road trip,” said Young. “It’s definitely tough, it’s straining. Most of all, it’s tough to win hockey games on the road. That’s kind of the position we’re at, we’ve been a good home team and we’re looking forward to getting back there.”


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