21 straight wins for the Powassan Voodoos is an impressive streak, but as the famous saying goes, all good things must come to an end and that is exactly what happened over the past weekend.
Powassan travelled to Sault Ste Marie to take on the Soo Thunderbirds, Soo Eagles, and Blind River on the way home. The first game went to Powassan, but it was the Soo Eagles in Sault Ste Marie Michigan that would end the streak with a 5-1 victory. The Voodoos would fall 9-0 the next day in Blind River.
“I think Friday was an emotional game,” head coach Max Gavin said. “Lots of penalties, lots of back and forth but we got through that with a win. Going into Saturday, we played hard but maybe not detailed enough and a bit of penalty trouble and some special teams goals.”
“I think the pressure of the streak was there. Honestly, in a weird way it was somewhat relieving, and allowed us to try and refocus,” Gavin continued. “In Blind River, some days just aren’t your day and unfortunately we had some penalty trouble and they took advantage and had four goals on the powerplay and we look to our special teams to correct and take away a few of those goals and get back into the game.”
In the game against Blind River, penalty trouble did, in fact, find Powassan as Gavin mentioned. 26 minutes in penalties called, and three Voodoos players will have to sit out at least a game as suspensions were handed out during the contest.
Despite that, Gavin says he saw growth within the team and doesn’t have to wait long to get another streak going as the Thunderbirds and Eagles will be in town on Friday and Saturday.
“We’re looking to get back to us,” Gavin stated. “We’ve allowed some emotional stuff to creep in and give us penalty trouble, and we know if we play five on five we have a deep lineup. If we’re not playing five on five, then we aren’t using our depth enough. It’s about checking in and restarting and understanding it is only November and it’s only our third loss of the year.”
“There’s lots of positives, even in that weekend that we need to take and move on with quick memories and get back to work,” Gavin said.
A major positive for Powassan was the naming of goaltender Owen Say to the Canada East team at the World Junior “A” Challenge in Dawson Creek British Columbia. Say, up until the weekend, was undefeated in his first 16 games and was named NOJHL goalie of the month for both September and October.
Joining Say with the team is Voodoos head trainer JJ Johnson, who will be the equipment manager for the team.
“It’s an awesome opportunity for Owen and JJ,” Gavin said. “It’s big for our program and puts us on the map. We wish them nothing but the best.”
“It’s a great opportunity for me, especially down the road as my career goes on,” Say explained. “It’s something I dreamed about as a kid, putting that jersey (Team Canada) on, so it’s a dream come true.”
Say was a late addition to the Voodoos, as he came up on a one-game try out in training camp, but impressed the team’s brass enough to keep the London native on.
“They gave me a shot in exhibition,” Say said. “I proved a point. I came and played my game, took a job and had fun.”
Voodoos goalie Owen Say holds up the Team Canada jersey. Say was recently named to Team Canada East for the World Junior A Challenge in B.C., along with Powassan’s head trainer JJ Johnson. (Kortney Kenney MyNorthBayNow.com staff)
The tournament runs from December 7 to 15, meaning Say will miss a northern road trip through Cochrane, Timmins, and Hearst, as well as a home date against the Elliot Lake Wildcats. But with Say gone, it will be an opportunity for Luke Greenwood to get some more action behind the boys in green.
“It’s awesome for a young goaltender,” Gavin explained. “He’s played well in the games he has been in and now he has the opportunity to play some back to backs, and really step up and be the guy. I know he will be looking forward to it, and he will take full advantage of it.”
To Greenwood’s credit, the 18-year-old has seven wins in his first 10 NOJHL games. That comes along with a respectable .921 save percentage and two shutouts.
The week prior to the weekend trip to the Soo, the Voodoos were ranked number one in Canada across the 132 team Canadian Junior Hockey League. After the two losses, Powassan has moved back down to number five in the country. The Timmins Rock, who find themselves two points behind the Voodoos in the standings, are nationally ranked 14.
“When you’re there, it’s nice,” Gavin said. “It doesn’t mean anything unless you’re number one at the end. Now that we have lost and it’s done with, we can focus on getting better. As long as we get better, we will be where we want when it counts.”