It doesn’t look to be getting any easier for the Brockville Braves these days.
The Braves extended their win streak to 13 games after beating the Navan Grads 4-2 at the Memorial Centre on Friday.
The matchup didn’t look like the CCHL’s bottom-ranked club going up against the second-ranked team in the Canada-wide CJHL.
Brockville out-shot Navan 15-9 in the first period, but in terms of quality scoring chances it was about even between the teams with both getting a few. Most of the Braves shots were from a far distance easily handled by Grads goalie Seth Carter.
Brockville caught some bad luck when netminder Liam Souliere broke his stick when trying to pass the puck behind the net. He ended up giving it right to Navan’s Alderic Denis, who had a wide open net to pot the first goal of the game 12 minutes into the first period.
Usually Brockville looks better as a game goes on, but they didn’t look like they could shake Navan as the seconds clicked in the second period. It’s not that the Braves were sluggish, but the Grads had no problem keeping up with Brockville’s pace and then adding to it at times.
Both teams took turns with the momentum. The Braves were in full swing when Eric Faith scored his league-high 12th goal of the season six minutes into the middle frame. Brockville’s Emerick Nadeau picked up his fourth goal just 77 seconds later.
The Grads snagged the momentum back when Seva Losa found the back of the net soon after the Braves killed a penalty with six minutes left in the second period.
In what now seems like something that is becoming Brockville’s trademark, the Braves played their best period in the third and they smothered the Grads at times.
With the game so close there was little room for error.
Nicholas Hawkins scored the game-winner 12 minutes into the third period when he had to push his way in front of the crease to have a few whacks at the puck.
Faith could have likely scored an empty-netter, but opted to pass it to teammate Philippe Gilmour to round out the scoring.
The Braves have now won their last two games by the skin of their teeth. Brockville beat the Kemptville 73s 4-3 on the road in overtime Wednesday before Friday’s win No. 13.
Wins haven’t come easy for Brockville as of late. Sure, the Braves beat the Pembroke Lumber Kings 5-1 last Sunday, but Brockville just made it by the Lumber Kings 3-1 on Oct. 12 (win No. 10) and the Kanata Lasers 4-3 on Oct. 11 (win No. 9).
Before that, Brockville had a string of five games where they beat their opponents by at least three goals.
“Sometimes it’s more important to get a game out like this than the ones where we were winning 4-1, 5-1,” said Braves coach Jesse Winchester. “I’m proud of the effort. It wasn’t perfect, much like the other night, but it was the first busy stretch and we got through it.”
Brockville could fill a few lines with all their injured players right now.
Headlined by veteran Mathieu Halle, the Braves injury list includes Theo Citrullo, Bailey Kirwin, Parker Casey, Matt McQuade, and Mason Piercey.
Halle’s injury is significant and Kirwin’s is “fairly significant,” said Winchester. Both, the coach said, will likely be out for weeks.
“We’re lucky we have great depth,” said Winchester. “We relied on it tonight.”
Brockville could definitely use a break from the ice.
The Braves had their busiest stretch of the season with five games in nine days.
Before this action packed part of the calendar, Brockville played their five games prior over 29 days.
The Braves won’t hit the ice until next Friday when they take on the Ottawa Jr. Senators at home.
Brockville hasn’t lost since Sept. 2. The team they beat to start this hot stretch was Ottawa.
“We’re gassed, five games in nine days, and we’re banged up,” said Winchester.