…with apologies to Charles Dickens.
The St. Mike’s Majors came to town today for their second visit this year. St. Mike’s won the first game 5-4. Before today’s game they were just one point up on the 67s in the Conference. You may recall their incredible run at the end of last season and their spoiler role in the playoffs. Well, they are certainly in the mix this year. Coming into today’s game, Justin Donati had 55 points for year (6th overall in the league) with a team leading +19 with Tyler Haskins not too far behind with 44 points (17th in the league) and a +17. You’ll understand the importance of these stats soon.
Today we welcomed Tibor Radulay to his first home game in a while. He played on Thursday in Peterborough but, from what I was told, according to his doctor’s instructions, he is not to play back-to-back games which is why he didn’t dress on Friday. Arron Aphonso and Pat Campbell were also back in today’s line up. Welcome back boys. To make room, defenseman Brent Mackie and forwards Joe Pleckatis and Shea Kewin were scratches today.
First Period: First and only Ottawa powerplay for the period came soon after the opening face-off when Cory Vitarelli was called 28 seconds into the game for elbowing. Ottawa didn’t do too much with the man advantage getting only 1 shot on goal for their trouble. And that was only after St, Mike’s got a shot on goal shorthanded. Not to worry because shortly after the penalty was over, the core of the Crazy-8s now accompanied by Brody Beard and Robbie Lawrance got the first score of the game. Jamie McGinn took a drop pass from Matt Lahey and put her home from the top of the face-off circle. Battman also got an assist on that one. St. Mike’s tied it a few minutes later when Derek Lewis took a shot from the point that was deflected past Danny by Matt Caria. Ottawa responded when Julian Talbot fired a wrist shot from the face-off circle that went over the shoulder of St. Mike’s goalie Wayne Savage to make it 2 – 1 for Ottawa. That was it for Savage as he was replaced by Ryan Nie.
Then Ottawa got themselves into penalty trouble. St. Mike’s was 9th in the league for their power play and Ottawa was 9th on the kill. I think those stats may be different once the numbers are crunched after today. Matt Lahey got caught on a cross-checking infraction and the PK team of Ouelette, Kiriakou, Reid, and Beard were beaten 40-some seconds into the penalty when Tyler Haskins took a feed from Justin Donati and scored the power play goal to tie up the game. Ottawa was barely back to even strength when Logan Couture was called for cross-checking. St. Mike’s didn’t waste any time when Justin Donati fired a wrist shot that got by Danny 20 seconds into the PP to go ahead by one point. Cory Vitarelli and Scott Lehman were credited with assists. That made it 2/2 on the power play for St. Mike’s. The defense was caught playing a bit sloppy in front of their net and leaving Danny on his own. Ottawa started the period strong but St. Mike’s took the momentum in the last half. A bright moment in the last period was when the puck got past Lawrance at the St. Mike’s blue line. One of the Donati twins (didn’t get the specific number) flew down the ice for a one-on-one with Danny. Danny made a great save with the right pad. That, and other saves, was the main reason the period ended with Ottawa down only a goal. End of the first period: Ottawa 2 – St. Mike’s 3, Shots on Goal: 14 – 26 for St. Mike’s.
Second Period: Here’s where the worst of times revealed itself for the Ottawa team. Ottawa started the period down a man when Arron Alphonso took a penalty at 19:07 of the first period for cross checking. We killed the remaining 1:08 of this one. Despite St. Mike’s taking 5 penalties for the period, compared to Ottawa taking only 1, and Ottawa actually having a brief 3 on 5 advantage, Ottawa did not do too well. Once the 3 on 5 situation was up to 4 on 5, St. Mike’s Tyler Haskins picked up a bouncing puck at his blue line and streaked in un-accosted to beat Danny on the stick-side with a backhanded shot. It was nice even though it was for the other guys. This little insult somehow got the 67s attention as they picked up their play somewhat. When St.Mike’s were down one man for having too many men on the ice, Jamie McGinn kept after a rebound in front of Nie until finally Nie fell back into the goal with the puck. Logan Couture and Jakub Vojta earned assists on the goal. But the momentum was short lived as St. Mike’s Matt Halischuck kept working during a delayed penalty call against Ottawa and tucked one under Danny for the goal. Shortly thereafter, Tyler Haskins got his hat trick when he got one past Danny’s outstretched hand. These last two goals were definitly the result of too many breakdowns by the Ottawa defense. Danny seemed a tad ticked after the last goal and I wondered if he might say something to the team during the intermission. At the end of the second period it was Ottawa 3 – St. Mike’s 6 with shots on goal of 31 – 29 for Ottawa.
Third Period: Well, whatever they said or did in the second intermission should also be said in the first intermission. Ottawa played a really strong third period and St. Mike’s didn’t except for their goalie. Ottawa kept the pressure up and it paid off. At the 8:52 mark of the period, Logan Couture picked up a rebound in front of the net and neatly put it over the glove hand of Nie. Brody Beard and Jamie McGinn got the assists. The tempo was definitely with Ottawa when Logan Couture picked up a turnover and went in on Nie. A great save by the St. Mike’s goalie robbed Logan. Later, great digging by Chris Hulit at the St. Mike’s blue line got the puck to Julian Talbot who got it to Bryan Bickell for the 5th 67s goal of the afternoon. Now this is exciting! Less than two minutes later, Chris tied it up with a beautiful tip past Nie with help from Bryan Bickell and Julian Talbot. Ottawa kept going at St. Mike’s but once the coach called a time out, St. Mike’s settled down to get out of the third period even. Shots on goal after regulation play: 51 – 33 for Ottawa! St. Mike’s only got 4 shots on goal that whole period!
OT: Kilrea started his Crazy-8 line which now had Matt Lahey, Logan Couture, Jamie McGinn, Brody Beard and Robbie Lawrance for most of the game. Ottawa won the face-off and Brody took the puck around the back of his net but he didn’t get it out of the Ottawa zone. Jeff Larsh got it to Tyler Donati who wandered in and got a weak one past Danny 47 seconds into the OT period. Game over before it barely begun. Crap!
Thoughts: There’s something about the second period with the 67s. Seems to be their nap time or something. We’ve seen what they can do when they play 60 minutes – we just need to see more 60 minute games.
I tried to keep closer tabs on the lines today. From what I noted, Kilrea rolled some approximation of 4 lines for the first and second periods. The line that stayed the most consistently together was a new version of the Crazy-8s: Beard, Lahey, Lawrance, McGinn and Couture who were on the plus side for two of Ottawa’s goals today and on the minus side for two goals. The next most “together” line was the top line of Hulit, Bickell, Talbot, Vojta, and Joslin. That line was on the plus side for three of today’s goals. The returning boys didn’t appear to get much ice time today; I don’t think Radulay made back on the ice after early in the second period. In the third period, Kilrea seemed to rely on his core players on the first and second lines with cameo appearances by Campbell, Kirakou, Ryan, Daley, and Alphonso. Kilrea must really like what he sees in the McGinn/Coutoure pair as they rarely played apart. Between the two of them they notched 5 points today. The future looks good.
Even though we lost in overtime, I think this was a better game to watch than the game against Windsor on Friday.
Final Score: 7 – 6 for St. Mike’s
First Star: Tyler Haskins (St. Mike’s – hat trick)
Second Star: Julian Talbot (goal and two assists)
Third Star: Jamie McGinn (2 goals and an assist)
Back to the work week for many of us – have a good one and see you next Friday.