Habs defend home ice with back-to-back wins over Border Chiefs
The St. Paul Canadiens picked up a big pair of home victories over the Onion Lake Border Chiefs this weekend, 12-2 on Friday and 6-2 on Saturday.
After suffering countless lopsided losses over the past few seasons, the Canadiens got a chance to bully the opposition in the scoring column this weekend, but head coach Joe Young pointed out that while it is a boost of confidence, a win is a win.
“We definitely don’t bask in the glory. We know what it’s like to be in that situation, but this year we’re in a situation where we need to win hockey games right in the middle of a good playoff push here, and sometimes these games can be the hardest games to play because you never really know what to expect,” he said. “I’m really proud of the guys, they came out and worked hard. Ultimately you can get into some really bad habits when the score starts to get out of hand, but we stuck to the game plan and everybody played extremely hard.”
The pair of wins lifted the Canadiens to 25 points in the standings, which currently has them sitting in fifth place with two games at hand over the sixth place Saddle Lake Warriors (24 points) and three games at hand over the fourth place Killam Wheat Kings (33 points).
Habs forward Pierre Beaudoin, who put up two assists on Friday and two goals on Saturday, said that the big weekend has done a lot for the mentality of the team.
“It’s huge. It’s a big confidence booster for us. It’s so tight in the standings that every win counts, so we weren’t going to let up because we’ve been on the other side of it,” he said, adding that the tight standings have been a great motivation for his team. “Especially the games against guys right above us, I think we’re in fifth right now, and that’s where we want to be, we want to be fourth or fifth. So every win counts moving forward, and that motivates us every day.”
Forward Matthew Ouellette agreed, saying the intensity moving forward will be a big motivating factor.
“It feels pretty good because you know you can’t take any games lightly anymore. That’s good for the team because we need to prepare for every game because they all count. It’s nice that we’re getting an opportunity to be one of the top teams heading into the playoffs,” he said.
The Canadiens largely controlled the play against the Border Chiefs through Friday and Saturday at the Clancy Richard Arena, and after suffering two hard losses last weekend, Young said he was very impressed with the team’s ability to play an all-around game.
“We definitely have some really good fire power up front right now, but I think the thing I’m really proud of this weekend is the D. We really stressed this week about making a good first pass and getting on the offense right away, and that’s what we did for the most part all weekend. Overall I’m extremely pleased with all aspects right now, after a weekend like this,” he said, adding the victories left the Habs moving forward on the right foot. “We know Wednesday against Vegreville is a big game for us and we wanted to be ready and not going in with any bad habits from this weekend.”
Habs defenceman Marshall Derocher agreed that the Canadiens have a real test in front of them this week, with a game in Vegreville on Wednesday and a game against the Cold Lake Ice on neutral ground in Lac La Biche on Friday.
“If we stick to the system the games are a lot easier and the outcome is a lot better for the team overall,” he said, adding that they will have to push the physical game in order to find success against the Rangers and Ice on the road. “I think if we come out physical and beat them to the puck with that physical presence it’ll be good . . . we’re going to come out hitting, come out shooting and skating hard.”
The Habs face off in Vegreville against the Rangers on Wednesday at 8 p.m., and in Lac La Biche against the Cold Lake Ice on Friday at 8 p.m.