By Martin Cleary
The National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators gave it their best effort this season, but missed qualifying for the first round of the playoffs and a shot at the Stanley Cup.
But their namesakes have been holding the team nickname high in major competitions this season and particularly in April.
Earlier this month, the Ottawa Senators U22 Elite team reached the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association Under-22 AA provincial championship game, but lost 2-1 to the Durham West Lightning. The Senators were rewarded with a silver medal.
The Ottawa Jr. Senators are pursuing their fourth consecutive Central Canada Hockey League championship over six years (the 2020 and 2021 playoffs were cancelled by the COVID-19 pandemic), but find themselves in early trouble.
The 2022-23 CCHL regular-season and Yzerman Division (42-8-3) champions, the Senators were overruled in the opening two games of the Art Bogart Cup by the Smiths Falls Bears, winners of the Robinson Division (37-15-1).
The Bears increased their lead in the best-of-seven final to 2-0, after a 1-0 overtime victory on their home ice Sunday. Sean James, the CCHL’s top point scorer (42-44-86), counted the only goal at 4:43 of the first OT session. The puck bounced wildly off the boards to James and he put an unchallenged slapshot past Senators goalie Rorke Applebee.
Will McEvoy earned a 30-save shutout for the Bears, who will travel to Ottawa Tuesday at 8 p.m. for the third game on Fred Barrett Arena ice.
Applebee, who had a matching 30-save game for the Senators, was a vital part of the Senators’ success along with goalie teammate Connor Shibley. They were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the CCHL – Applebee, 24-2-3, 2.07 GAA and .934 save percentage, and Shibley, 18-6-0, 2.10 and .926.
McEvoy finished sixth among goalies. In his 40 regular-season games, he had a record of 28-9-1 with a 2.87 GAA and a .912 save percentage.
In the opening game of the final, Riley Thompson fired three goals as the visiting Bears defeated the Senators 5-2. Thompson was the Bears’ second-best point scorer this season at 33-34-67.
Thomas Gangl and Shaymus Stevenson also scored for the Bears. Owen Protz and Emile Villiard were the Senators’ goal scorers.
The Senators advanced to the final defeating Cornwall Colts 4-1 in the quarterfinals and Brockville Braves 4-1 in the semifinals, while the Bears had their respective first two series wins against Carleton Place Canadians 4-1 and Renfrew Wolves 4-1.
UNDEFEATED CANADA ADVANCES TO WOMEN’S U20 CONCACAF CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT
Canada completed its first test to reach the 2024 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup by going undefeated and winning the CONCACAF qualifying soccer tournament in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Ottawa’s Annabelle Chukwu scored two goals as Canada turned back El Salvador 9-1 to post its fourth straight win. Canada earlier defeated Cuba 4-0, Martinique 15-0 and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 12-0.
Chukwu finished the tournament with five goals in four games, while Ottawa teammate Rosa Maalouf recorded three goals in her four appearances.
Canada advances to the CONCACAF championship at the end of May. The top three teams will qualify for the World Cup.
HOWARD RAJALA RINK IN CONTENTION FOR WORLDS PLAYOFF SPOT
Rideau Curling Club skip Howard Rajala, third Rich Moffatt, second Chris Fulton, lead Paul Madden and alternate Phil Daniel are in second place in their preliminary group with a 3-1 record during the world men’s senior curling championship in Gangneung, Korea.
Representing Canada, the Rajala rink won its third game Monday at the 24-team worlds, after Radek Zdarsky of Czech Republic conceded after seven ends with the score at 7-4.
Rajala won his opening two games – 12-0 (six ends) over Hans Peter Schack of Denmark and 6-1 (seven ends) over Stefan Van Dijick of Belgium. Its only loss was to Gyorgy Nagy of Hungary by an 8-6 count.
CYCLIST ARIANE BONHOMME PART OF BRONZE-MEDAL WINNING TEAM
The new Canadian women’s team pursuit cycling unit made a smashing debut at the Tissot UCI Track Nations Cup in Milton, ON.
Sarah Van Dam, Maggie Coles-Lyster, Ariane Bonhomme of Gatineau and Erin Attwell had the velodrome shaking as they finished third and won the bronze medal by a narrow margin over the United States. Great Britain and Germany were one-two respectively.
“This gives us confidence,” Bonhomme said. “We’re a new team and since the Tokyo Games (2021), we’ve been trying to rebuild our program.
“We knew we were capable of doing this, but everything needed to come together on race day. We’ve been trying for more than a year and today everything worked out. We know that this is the start of something special.”
MAVERICK BRONCOS GIRLS’ U18 TEAM EARNS PROVINCIAL VOLLEYBALL BRONZE
The Maverick Broncos emerged as the only local team to earn a medal in the first half of the Ontario Volleyball Association age-group championships at Toronto’s Enercare Centre.
The provincial championships for the boys and girls’ 15U and 18U divisions were staged over three days ending Saturday. The boys and girls’ 16U and 17U tournaments end Tuesday inside the 58-court venue.
The Broncos won the girls’ 18U division 1 bronze medal, after capturing five of their six matches (winning 13 sets and dropping only four sets). In the bronze-medal match, the Broncos defeated the Kitchener-Waterloo Predators Force No. 2 25-13, 25-12, 25-22.
Pakmen Gold was given a double scare by the Broncos in the semifinal, but rallied to defeat the Ottawa team 20-25, 25-15, 26-24, 25-17.
The Broncos lineup included Victoria Potvin, who was named by the OVA as the winner of the Evelyn Holick Memorial Award for her on-court talent and achievements plus her spirit and community work.
The other top local performers at the OVA provincials were: Ottawa Fusion Purple (boys’ 18U division 1, fourth), Maverick Palominos (girls’ 18U division 3, fourth), Maverick Chargers (boys’ 15U division 1, tied fifth), Ottawa Fusion Red (girls’ 15U division 3, tied fifth), Maverick Colts (girls’ 18U division 2, tied fifth) and Maverick Raiders (Traditional Limited-Specialized division 3, tied fifth).
CAREER-BEST WORLD CUP RESULT FOR ARCHER ERIC PETERS
Ottawa’s Eric Peters earned a career-best fifth-place men’s individual recurve result on the Archery World Cup circuit at an April 18-23 competition in Turkey.
The 25-year-old qualified in 17th position out of 133 entrants. In the elimination rounds, Peters took down opponents from Croatia, Mexico, Ukraine and then the reigning Olympic champion from Turkey who was competing on home soil. He finally fell in the quarter-final round by the narrowest of margins in a shootout to France’s Jean-Charles Valladont, who went on the win silver.
Peters also placed 11th in the men’s team event and 29th in the mixed team competition in Turkey.
SIX U13 OTTAWA TEAMS WIN ONTARIO BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP MEDALS
Ottawa teams collected three gold and three silver medals at the Ontario Basketball Association provincial boys and girls’ U13 championships.
Ottawa South – Kelly defeated Jump Basketball – Nick 59-43 to win the gold medal in the boys’ division 6 final. The Gloucester-Cumberland Basketball Association Wolverines downed Kitchener-Waterloo Vipers – Brown 58-39 to win the boys’ division 7 title.
Ottawa Next Level earned a pair of silver medals as it lost the boys’ division 2 final 45-41 to WPA Suns Elite, and the boys’ division 10 championship game 65-58 to Cambridge Centaurs.
The girls’ U13 division 5 final saw the Nepean Blue Devils defeat the Ottawa Shooting Stars 32-20.
WARREN HASTINGS REPEATS AS JOCK RIVER RACE WINNER
For the second straight year, Warren Hastings of Toronto won the Jock River canoe race in Richmond.
Hastings was the only entrant to go under one hour, posting the fastest time over the 12.5-kilometre course in 58 minutes, 26 seconds. The mixed canoe tandem team of Michelle Laprade and Ryan Stepka were second at 1:01.30.
Pierre Lavictoire and Oliver McMillan were the top men’s canoe tandem team and third overall in 1:01:48.
The annual start to the competitive canoe season attracted 199 entrants.
EASTERN CANADIAN U14 BRONZE MEDAL FOR WEST OTTAWA WILD
The West Ottawa Wild returned home from the Eastern Canadian ringette championships in Dieppe, New Brunswick, with the bronze medal in the girls’ U14AA division.
After winning its first three games, the Wild lost its final match 4-3 to the P.E.I. Wave. Lucy Fischer, Jane Campanelli and Olivia Binder scored the Wild goals.
Binder and Fischer scored four goals each in the championship tournament.
LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST
· Ottawa Lions Track and Field Club’s Bianca Borgella, a T13 visionally-impaired sprinter, blasted out of the starting blocks at the LSU Alumni Gold meet, running 25.31 seconds for the 200 metres and 12.31 seconds for the 100 metres. Her times placed her No. 1 on the International Paralympic Committee athletics ranking list for the 200 metres and No. 2 in the 100 metres.
· Metcalfe’s Tyler Branchaud had five at-bats, scored two runs and had one walk as Canada finished fifth at the U23 World Cup men’s softball championship with a 3-5 record.
· Ottawa’s Michael Woods of Israel-Premier Tech gave a determined finishing effort, but placed fourth in the La Flèche Wallonne one-day bike race and was only three seconds behind winner Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia and UAE-Emirates.
· Three Ottawa athletes will compete this week at the Cadet and Junior Pan American taekwondo championships in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Nikola Samardzic (cadet 164 centimetres), Laila Khan (junior female 52 kilograms) and Lauren Hong (junior female 63 kilograms).
· Ottawa Lions training partners Nina Gauthier and Noemie Beauregard were first and second respectively in the women’s five-kilometre race during the Montreal half-marathon in 17:27.0 and 17:51.0.
· Nepean Ottawa Diving Club’s Kate Miller and 2020 Olympian Caeli McKay will compete May 6 in the women’s 10-metre synchro event during the World Aquatics Diving World Cup May 5-7 in Montreal.
· Athletes willing to test their core speed, power, strength and endurance to see if they have Olympic potential are invited to attend the Canadian Olympic Committee and RBE Training Ground session on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the University of Ottawa’s Montpetit Hall.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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