January 28, 2006

Ottawa 3 - 2 Over Oshawa

Although Oshawa is at the bottom of the heap in the OHL, Ottawa has not had an easy time with this team. Coming into tonight’s game, Oshawa was leading the series. The Generals’ top scorers include former 67s Peter Tsimikalis, the 15 year old rookie John Tavares and NHL prospect Cal Clutterbuck. The Generals are pretty much out of playoff contention this year but with such a young team, they are building momentum for a pretty decent finish this year and good prospects for next year.

Ottawa is still in the thick of things in a tight race in the Eastern Conference. Captain Julian Talbot was out of the lineup as he started serving his 3 game suspension for the boarding incident against Kaleta last week. Julian was able to finish playing the weekend as the league only decided his fate mid-week. Brent Mackie and Aaron Alphonso were healthy scratches for tonight’s game.

The evening opened with a nice tribute to Scotty Bowman who was in town for a free coaching session today. There was a video clip of just some of the highlights from his outstanding career. Scotty dropped the puck for the honorary face off. Chris Hulit took the spot of our Captain.

First Period: With Captain Talbot relegated to spectator status, Logan Couture moved up to the top line with Chris Hulit and his former Crazy-8 partner Jamie McGinn. Joslin and Voyta were the starting defencemen. Right from the get-go, Chris set the pace when he took the puck off the face-off and drove in for a quick attack on the goal. Unfortunately, Oshawa goalie, Kevin Couture (no relation to our guy) also set his own tone for the night by denying Chris the goal. Jamie McGinn got the only Ottawa penalty in the period for interference and the team killed it. Actually, Ottawa had a couple of great chances for short-handed goals by both Couture and Liscomb but they couldn’t get past the goalie. Between the post and just plain old non-existent puck-luck, Ottawa was denied a number of times. Finally at 14:36 while Oshawa’s Cal Clutterbuck was in the penalty box for hooking, Jamie McGinn finally got one past Couture with assists from Chris Hulit and Logan Couture. The top line had another great scoring chance when Hulit and Couture broke in on the goalie but Couture came up with the big save! At the end of the first period, Ottawa led 1 – 0. Oshawa can thank their goalie for keeping them in the game – he faced 14 shots on goal, a few of them being serious threats while Danny only saw 5.

Second Period: Ottawa started strong again when Oshawa’s Billy Siekris was caught cross checking at just 26 seconds into the game. Ottawa wasted no time taking advantage when Chris Hulit finally scored on a rebound into a wide open net. Line mates Logan Couture and Derek Joslin assisted on the goal. Ottawa continued to play reasonably well for the next little while but Oshawa picked up the pace, became more aggressive and took over the play. With less than 5 minutes left in the period, John Tavares scored a nice goal with assists from Clutterbuck and Jesse Biduke. Now within one goal, Oshawa found new legs and kept the pressure up. With Elgin Reid serving Ottawa’s only penalty of the period for cross checking, the Tavares-Clutterbuck-Biduke trio scored again this time Clutterbuck getting the goal with the help of his buddies. Danny didn’t stand a chance on that one – it was a good goal! Just as the buzzer sounded to end the period, Oshawa’s Dale Mitchell was called for checking from behind.

Score at the end of the second period: 2 – 2 with Oshawa getting 6 more shots on goal than Ottawa during the period. Final shots on goal after 2 periods: 29 – 26 for Ottawa.

Third Period: After scoring on 2 of their 4 previous power plays, Ottawa’s power play fell apart entirely. I think Oshawa had more scoring chances playing short handed than Ottawa did with the advantage. They finally got their act together and started playing a tad better but Oshawa was still taking the game to them seeking the go-ahead goal. Both teams took a couple of penalties each early in the period but neither team could convert them into goals. Finally, with about 5 minutes left to play, Jamie McGinn scored his second of the night when he batted the puck out of mid-air to send it into the net for the go-ahead goal. Again, his buddies Couture and Hulit assisted.

Oshawa really started to play hard for the tying goal and most of the play was in front of Danny who did an outstanding job! He made a number of really great saves and the D tried hard to move the puck out of the front of the net. In one of the mad scrambles in front of and in the crease, Voyta covered the puck with his hand and Oshawa was awarded a penalty shot.

Tension built in the arena as the Generals took their time to pick their man. Finally, Peter Tsimikalis skated to centre ice to face, mano-a-mano, his former net minder team mate. The crowd was cheering Danny on! Tsimikalis picked the puck up at centre ice, Danny came forward out of his crease to shut-down the angle. Tsimikalis tried to move around but Danny kept with him and made the save with his blocker! The crowd went wild! Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Bat Man!

Oshawa wasn’t done yet. With 1:42 left to play, their pulled their goalie for the 6th attacker and poured it on. Ottawa had to ice the puck a few times and McGinn had a great chance for the hat trick but he hit the metal for the second time tonight! Ottawa just couldn’t get the empty netter but they did hang on for the win.

Final score: 3 – 2 for Ottawa and final shots on goal were 39 – 38.

Thoughts: During post-game discussions over our favourite libations we all agreed that this was an exciting game to watch. It was end-to-end with lots of scoring chances, not a lot of penalties (6 for Oshawa and 5 for Ottawa), great scoring chances and some great saves by both goalies. Couture looked comfortable on the top line. I read an article from one of the Toronto papers that indicated that these three guys billet together so perhaps that’s why they came together so easily.

From what I can tell from my notes, Ottawa rolled mostly three lines although the boys from the fourth line did see some ice time. Killer moved his defencemen around quite a bit with Joslin, Voyta, Beard, Grimaldi, Reid and Ryan getting time on each of the lines.

For the most part, the guys had a pretty good game. Obviously, the top line had a good night which could have been much more productive if not for the great goaltending from Oshawa. Liscomb continued to play hard and create some great opportunities, Radulay powered through players more than once and his speed was surprising, and Grimaldi continued to play strong defense (except for a couple of brain-farts that I didn’t expect from him). While not up to the caliber we saw them play against Peterborough, it was a good game against a motivated team.

Three Stars of the Game:

First Star: Jamie McGinn (2 goals)
Second Star: Cal Clutterbuck (Osh – goal and an assist)
Third Star: Logan Couture (3 assists)

Hardest Working 67: Chris Hulit (goal and 2 assists and lots of great chances)

Ottawa plays Toronto on Sunday. Toronto stayed one point ahead of Ottawa in the standings with a shoot out win over Kingston last night. From the score sheet it looks like it might have been quite the game: 83 shots on goal split pretty much evenly between the two teams and needing to go to 10 players each in the shoot out. Ottawa will definitely have to pick up their game to beat Toronto and move up in the standings. But they can do it – we’ve seen it.


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