Cloutier: It’s Playoffs Time!
“Cloutier’s Corner” is the personal blog of Canadian goalie Logan Cloutier, who is fighting to earn an NCAA D-I scholarship. Logan currently plays for the Kahnawake Condors in Quebec, and has battled through a season-ending knee injury and a concussion. You can follow him on Twitter at @lcloutier30 and follow his blog as he tries to earn that magical college scholarship!
Although the season officially came to a close on March 1st for the Kahnawake Condors, our playoffs felt like they began at the trade deadline. After making a couple significant moves and acquiring three players, two futures and two 2013 first-round draft picks, our team gained some much-needed chemistry and began to win games.
Since the trade deadline on Jan. 10, we have had a winning record of eight wins, five losses and one shootout loss; though it may not seem amazing, we have successfully climbed three places and secured our position in the playoffs. Of the six losses since the deadline, all have been against teams above us in the standings and three have been one-goal games. Being one of the most successful teams since the deadline has also given us a penalty kill and power play percentage that add up to 111%, not an easy feat for any team in this league.
In our first two weeks together after the trade deadline, we started out with a win and two losses, but it was clear that we were a different team than at the start of the season. We followed up with four consecutive wins, jumping from 13th to 10th in the process. However, the number one ranked Longeuil snapped our winning streak in a tough 5-2 loss.
We followed up that loss by winning three of our next five, losing one game by one goal and the other to the now number one ranked St. Jerome. Our last game of the season was against the fourth ranked Lachine, a team we haven’t beaten all season. Though the game had no significance to our position for playoffs, the game was full of emotion and definitely had a feel of being a playoff game. Though we fell 4-3 in a shootout, it was a very hard fought battle and the outcome could have been different if we had gotten a couple of bounces.
Looking back at the regular season, it is safe to say that I have learned a ton and am very happy with my first season as a Condor. At the start of the year, I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to play because of knee surgery in October 2011. But I was very happy to find that I was 100-percent by the time this season rolled around.
In a league that is extremely offensive, goalies take a beating on a nightly basis. But this is very good from a developmental standpoint by learning to read plays much better, having to read and react and not rely on your team to always shut the opponents down. Though other leagues in Canada still have a couple weeks remaining in their season, the Quebec Junior AAA League currently has thirteen of the top twenty scorers in Canada. There may be a few players that get bumped out of that elite group, however, nobody will catch Joakim Arsenault of Ste. Agathe, who has 121 points in 52 games, an unbelievable stat.
With the playoffs kicking off on March 3rd, the first round is best of five, with the top four teams in the league getting a bye through the first round. We have a good chance at getting past the first round, playing against 7th place Princeville, a team we have beaten all three times this season.
In Game 1 of the series, we came out flat in the first and though we had a 2-1 lead going into intermission, we didn’t necessarily deserve it. The second was no better and we found ourselves down 3-2 after two. In the first minute of the third, we scored two quick goals and maintained a 4-3 lead for most of the period. Princeville fought back, however, and scored to tie the game and send it to overtime.
The overtime period was back and forth the whole time, with both teams having great chances, but a potential missed slash on the referee’s part caused the puck to bounce into the slot, and Princeville made no mistake burying the loose puck for the win. A combination of being flat, lack of discipline and some bad bounces resulted in a Game 1 loss for us, but we will be looking to bounce back with a win on March 5th.