Powassan Voodoos open with a win

Powassan Voodoos clinched their preseason home opener Sunday afternoon against the French River Rapids 2-1 in overtime. Caleb Dawson scored the game winning goal. PHOTO BY CHRIS DAWSON PHOTO

Some late game magic propelled the Powassan Voodoos to a win over French River in the team’s preseason opener

Greg EstabrooksNorth Bay Nugget

The Powassan Voodoos came through in the clutch to win their preseason opener versus the French River Rapids in a Sunday afternoon game at the Sportsplex.

The Voodoos tied it with a shorthanded goal in the final minutes to force extra time.

Caleb Dawson scored early in overtime on a game-deciding breakaway at the Powassan Sportsplex to make it a 3-2 final.

Each club converted once in the first period with Owen Ethier connecting for the French River while Grayson Bradley countered for the Voodoos, while on the power play.

It was 2-1 for the Rapids when Justin Rousseau tied it up for Powassan, shorthanded at 18:30 of the 3rd period.

Both teams’ lineups were loaded with first year players.

The game may not have featured many structured plays, which is understandable for the first game of the year, but it was intense and hard hitting.

New head coach Peter Goulet observed the game from the stands.

Most of the players who hit the ice Sunday will not become Voodoo regulars, but some could.

“Absolutely, we gave some local kids a chance here, some other young kids from the Sudbury area, the boys played hard, they battled. A big goal by a local kid, Rousseau, that is huge for him. It is good to get our first win, French River played hard.”

Goulet also weighed in on the physical and sometimes chippy game.

“You got a bunch of North Bay guys on that team (French River) and we have North Bay guys here, they played together in the past, they know each other, both teams want to win their first game. Our team is all rookies, they are trying to impress me.”

Next weekend the Voodoos are on the road to a mini tournament facing off against teams from the Central Canadian Junior Hockey League.

“We are looking forward to it, they are going to push our guys. We are going to see what we really have here, see if there are any holes, just get a feel for it.”

Despite a full roster at this moment, Goulet is always on the lookout for more talent.

“I will be recruiting until January 10th (the acquisition deadline). I will also be recruiting all season for next year,” said Goulet with a chuckle.

“I am on the ball, on the phone, talking with teams all the time, to see who is up for trade. I check the wire every day, sometimes twice or three times a day. These kids must earn their job everyday like I do, if I do not do my job I am not going to be here. If the guys that are here are not listening or doing their job, we have to make changes, the second thing that happens if it is not working out is that I get fired.”

Roster turnover is a given, especially at this level of hockey.

The Nugget asked Goulet what he does to keep teams cohesive given the roster churn.

“Look, I have been doing this full time for 20 years. I never, ever, started a team in September and finished with the same guys at the end of the year.

Players get released from the OHL (Ontario Hockey League), the Western Hockey League, the Q (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), the USHL (United States Hockey League), all leagues release players.

It is trickle-down effect, a player here may lose his job and he could go down to Junior “B,” or Junior “C.”

In the final analysis Goulet says this, “It is part of the game, we are always looking to get better. If there is a better player out there, it is my job, working for the owner and the community, to put the best team on the ice.”

Next up for the Voodoos are games versus French River on Tuesday on the road, then a trip to play Renfrew of the CCHL next weekend.