It was a different Brockville Braves team that arrived for its game against the Hawkesbury Hawks on Friday night.
Having dropped three games in a row, including a disappointing home loss to the Gloucester Rangers last Friday, the Braves came out with a purpose and put in one of their most complete efforts in the past several weeks.
The end result was a 6-2 win that gave the Braves a key two points as they try to advance up a crowded CCHL leaderboard in their final games of the season.
“We needed to get back on track,” Braves forward Ben Blasko said of the big win.
Getting back on track is something both the Braves and Blasko did in Friday night's contest.
The team got a solid effort from each player, including some extra minutes from the remaining bench after the Braves lost three players to game misconducts and forward Cory Wilson to injury along the way.
“I thought a lot of guys stepped up,” said Blasko, who himself shook off some recent scoring troubles to post four assists.
With the four points, Blasko moved within six of red-hot Cornwall Colts winger Michael Pontarelli in the CCHL scoring race.
The slick Braves centre now has 96 points on 32 goals and 60 assists.
But as much as Blasko would like to win the scoring title, he is quick to downplay its importance in the grand scheme of things.
“Of course I'm watching it, but it's not my first priority,” he said, noting he and his teammates are in full playoff-focus mode with only three games left in their regular season.
Friday's was a game in which the Braves were never in much danger of losing control over the outcome, with the team forechecking hard, finishing hits and playing sound positional hockey.
It was the type of effort head coach and general manager Jason Hawkins has been waiting for over the past couple weeks.
“Everybody gave it their all,” Hawkins said, noting he was proud of how the team's shortened bench pulled together after losing four players during the game.
The short bench was a result of several Braves' ejections, plus a hand injury to Wilson after he was hit with a shot.
Kevin Kirisits was given a game misconduct for a first-period fight with the Hawks' Justin Villeneuve. Following him later was forward Owen Gill, who engaged in a second-period scrap with the Hawks' Tristen Elie.
Walter was given a five-minute head-check major and game misconduct on a second-period hit on the Hawks' Zach Car.
Car was hurt on the play and laid on the ice for several moments prior to being helped to his feet and led off the ice by training staff and teammates.
He was taken to hospital. No word was available on his condition following the game.
Hawkins said Walter will likely receive an automatic one-game suspension for the hit.
He also said Wilson was taken to hospital to have his hand x-rayed, revealing a compound bruise, but no break.
The Braves have three games left on their regular-season schedule, including Tuesday in Kanata, Thursday night in Hawkesbury and Friday night at home to the Carleton Place Canadians.
With Friday's win, the Braves moved into a tie for sixth place with the Smiths Falls Bears at 73 points apiece.
In other games around the CCHL on Friday night, Nepean dumped Smiths Falls 5-2, Carleton Place doubled Kemptville 6-3 and Pembroke beat Cumberland 5-3.
FACTBOX: BRAVES 6
GOALS: Brockville – Zach Todd (PP) (Nathan Todd, Ben Blasko), Hayden Hulton (PP) (Nathan Todd, Ben Blasko), Erik Brown (Hayden Hulton, Taylor Henry), Shane Riddell (Brandon Cole, Ben Blasko), David Ferreira (Ben Blasko, Nathan Todd)
Hawkesbury – Trent Durocher (PP) (Roman Ammirato, Travis Meyer), Alec Mackenzie (Francis Landers, Yanik Laliberte)
SHOTS: Brockville – 34
Hawkesbury – 28
GOALIES: Brockville – Andrew Pikul
Hawkesbury – Nicholas Newport
POWERPLAYS: Brockville – 2 for 6
Hawkesbury – 1 for 8
ATTENDANCE (at Brockville): 1,015