December 17, 2005

Tough Start to the Weekend - Belleville Bulls Defeat the Barber Poles: 3 – 1

This was the 6th of 8 matches this season with Ottawa winning three of the previous 5 games and coming into today’s game, Belleville was three points behind the 67s with a game in hand. Kilrea was on the road tonight doing some scouting and Ottawa played without Campbell (healthy scratch), Radulay (taking time to recover properly) and Vojta who apparently is in Vancouver getting ready to play with the Czech team in the World Juniors. The Bulls had the second best penalty kill in the league according to the stats on the OHL site.

First Period: Elgin Reid was moved up to the top line tonight to replace Jakub Vojta on defense. Belleville got the first goal early in the period when Bickell miscued in the neutral zone and the puck was picked up by Belleville’s Nick Pageau who got the unassisted goal with what looked like a relatively soft shot that got in through the 5-hole on Danny. The only Ottawa goal for the game came at the 14:00 mark when Bickell took a feed from Hulit and fired it from a sharp angle over the shoulder of Kevin Lalande. Belleville took 4 penalties in the first period compared to Ottawa’s 1. It’s easy to understand how the Bulls have such a good PK – I’m not sure the 67s got more than a couple of shots on goal during the 4 penalties. Shots one goal after the first period: 13 – 7 for Ottawa.

Second Period: Belleville scored their only PP goal and the eventual game winner at 14:30 in the period when Matt Beleskey took a feed right in front of the crease and dribbled one under the stick-hand of Danny who was already down. Ottawa played hard during the period and actually seemed to control the play most of the period but they just couldn’t convert anything into goals. McGinn was absent for most of the period with equipment problems. Among the bright moments during the period: Belleville was streaking in with a two-on-one with a trailing third danger-player just ready for a drop pass. Danny followed the play well and made a beautiful save! Shots on goal after two: 27 – 16 for Ottawa.

Third Period: Again, Ottawa played a strong third period but it wasn’t enough to get the job done. Both teams killed the Power Plays effectively (2 PPs for Ottawa and 1 for Belleville). Beleskey fired a hard shot at 12:36 for the unassisted goal but I think it must have deflected off an Ottawa player. Ottawa tried real hard right to the buzzer, including pulling Danny in the last minute for the extra attacker, but it was not to be. Final shots on goal for the game: 41 – 20 in Ottawa’s favour.


For some strange reason unknown to us mortals, the three stars were not announced in the arena and obviously no one skated out for the announcement which was more than a tad disappointing. This is a ritual to which I look forward at the end of each home game. Grrrr!

According to the OHL score sheet, the three stars were:
#1: Kevin Lalande (Belleville goalie – 40 saves)
#2: Matt Beleskey (Belleville – 2 goals)
#3: Julian Talbot (lots of chances and a real workhorse – an inspiration to us all)

Thoughts: Last Friday I mentioned that the Spitfires were outlucked – well I think that happened a bit to Ottawa tonight. They had a number of great opportunities but somehow they didn’t get the right bounces. Belleville seemed to get their sticks and bodies in the way lots and lots of times. Mind you, I could have made some of the blocks by running down the aisle, leaping over the glass and getting in front of the shot; some Ottawa players took enough time to text message the entire city with their plans. Not a lot of surprising moves.

Bickell seemed to have a strange night tonight. There was the lapse in the first period, he fell down at the Belleville blue line once for no apparent reason (but he did manage to still get his stick on the puck to keep it in the zone), he made some great passes – to BELLEVILLE, made some great plays but also was caught a number of times in the wrong spot. Not one of his more brilliant performances.

Kevin Lalande, a Clarence Creek native, had a lot of supporters at the game and he got the first star for his efforts. And, to be fair, he sure didn’t give up too many rebounds. But I don’t think he made a whole lotta spectacular saves either. The vast majority of the 67s shots were pretty much right on the crest or in his glove. 41 shots is a lot of rubber but not much was through traffic or in scrambles in front of the net. Good for the kid but … first star?? Not sure. I think that Danny had to be more athletic in the game and made some great saves and was also pretty cheap with the rebounds. I’m not arguing for a star for Danny – just commenting on my impressions of which goalie had the harder job. While I like it when the boys put it to the net, there really is a difference between quantity and quality.

As always, Julian Talbot was the workhorse tonight. That kid has to be one of the fittest athletes on the team given that he can work so hard night after night. He had some great moments that just didn’t end the way the script should have been written. Derek Joslin also worked hard tonight and for his efforts was named the hardest working 67.

It will be interesting to see what Killer does on his little “shopping” trip. I certainly don’t know anything about putting teams together but I’m sure it’s pretty difficult to find that sweet spot between assembling a solid team for this year and strengthening the foundation for future years. Who out there doesn’t think that there is more to the Guadagnolo/Sponsellor/Euro swap with Windsor that hasn’t played out yet??

The boys hit the road tonight for games in Barrie and Oshawa to wrap things up before Christmas. Here’s hoping for a safe and productive road trip and that that they get some wonderful early Christmas/Hanukah gifts.

Thanks for taking time to read our/my ramblings. I hope that my inexpert observations provide some entertainment value for those who can’t be there or hear the games (can you actually pick up an internet feed of the game in Iran??). This is our last home game before the holiday festivities and therefore my last post until then as well. We wish everyone a really fun and safe Christmas/Hanukah. And remember - this is just a game and the players are just kids with big hearts and big dreams.

Cheers and all the best!

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