January 21, 2006

Ottawa Stahls the Petes

This is what we like to see. What a game tonight!

Coming into tonight’s game the Peterborough Petes were the top team in the OHL, third ranked team in the CHL (see http://www.chl.ca/QMJHLNews0506/0120.html ) and having won their last two games against Belleville and Windsor. Highly rated Jordan Stahl was in the NHL Top Prospect Game in Ottawa on Wednesday where he had a decent game (see http://www.chl.ca/CHLTopProspects/home.html ) but the Petes were without erstwhile WJC hero Steve Downie who was sitting out a 5 game suspension for some nasty work in their game against Belleville on January 11th. That boy is his own worst enemy.

Ottawa was back on home ice after a not so great weekend in the far-flung regions of the league. It was the home debut of our two latest additions Brent Liscomb and Joe Grimaldi acquired in trades with Windsor. Coach Kilrea was interviewed before the game where he spoke of these two guys. According to Killer, these guys both bring good work ethic and attitude to the team. We also welcomed Jamie McGinn fresh from his own good results from the NHL Top Prospects game. He didn’t score any goals but he sure had some dangerously good opportunities (we were at the game).

First Period: The boys showed up to play! The starting lineup was Daley, Couture, Liscomb, Beard and Grimaldi with Batman in net. It didn’t take long for them to set the pace and threaten early with a pass from Couture to Liscomb in the slot for solid scoring chance just 20 seconds into the game. It wasn’t too long after that that Vojta started the penalty parade with a high sticking call just 54 seconds into the period. No damage done by the Petes.

I didn’t keep track of the lines as closely as previous games as I find I miss too much of the play while writing stuff down (I have no memory for this stuff – I’m old) but it looked like Killer was rotating them fairly quickly to keep all the legs fresh. Our own NHL prospector McGinn got us on the scoreboard at 6:07 of the first period with an unassisted goal. Then the Petes had a couple more man advantages while Brodie Beard and Julian Talbot took turns for holding and boarding calls respectively. Not only did the 67s kill those penalties, they responded with their own power play goal at the 15:32 mark of the period while Petes captain Jamie Tardiff was serving time for roughing. Pat Daley fired a shot from the right point (prompted by everyone in sections 20, 21, and 22 yelling SHOOT!). Logan Couture tipped it in for the score. Joe Grimaldi also got an assist on that one.

Late in the period, behind the Pete’s net, Radulay and Trevor Hendrix sort of got into a dust up. I blinked and missed it but by all reports the gloves were dropped, Radulay was popped in the beak and he promptly folded his tent. I guess he’s not the fightin’ kind. I don’t think we saw him again after that.

I’m wondering if something happened at the Prospect game between Stahl and McGinn (played on opposing teams) because it seemed to me that the Petes were taking a lot of runs at McGinn. Talbot took particular offense at a hit on Jamie by Turtle Kaletta and administered some of his own rough justice as it appeared that the ref wasn’t about to get involved. Unfortunately the ref’s version of events was that Talbot administered a nasty check from behind and he sent our boy packing for the game. Kaletta put on a good show to suggest that he got a bad boo-boo from Julian. Petes had a 5 on 3 advantage which was killed.

Through all of this, Battochio made some great saves to keep the 67s in the game with shots on goal of 12 – 13 in favour of the Petes.

Second Period: Ottawa started the period still on the penalty kill with 3 minutes left over from the first period. I don’t think there was a whistle for the entire kill which Ottawa did masterfully. And, we should note that the alleged boo-boos suffered by Kaletta in the first period were miraculously healed during the intermission as he was back on the ice the first opportunity possible. Too bad the Golden Globes were handed out last week.

Back to hockey – Logan and Jamie showed how well they work together by almost pulling off a beautiful play when Jamie set up Logan in the slot but it was not to be. But, not much later, at the 6:44 mark of the period, Logan scored when the Peters made a fatal error behind their own net and Chris Hulit got the puck to Logan who made it count. Vojta also had an assist. This made it 3 – 0 for the good guys. We took a couple of penalties which were killed before Derek Joslin made it 4 – zip at 12:52 with help from Chris Hulit and Brent Liscomb during a delayed penalty call.

The Petes took three penalties including one leading to the ejection of Petes’ Justin Soryal for an ugly elbow-to-the-face-leg-to-the-knee assault on Elgin Reid with under 5 minutes left in the period. Ottawa was unable to score with the 5 minute man advantage that flowed into the third period.

Again, Batman made some fantastic saves. Shots on goal after two: 23 – 22 in Ottawa’s favour.

Third Period: Peterborough was not a happy team by this time and they wanted blood. Reid and Ryder get into it and were sent to the naughty spot early in the period. On the way to the penalty box I noticed that Reid exchanged pleasantries with Kaletta. During the ensuing 4 on 4 the new kid on the block Joe Grimaldi got one past the Pete’s goalie from above the face off circle. Thomas Kiriakou and Brent Liscomb assisted on the goal. The game ended with Danny’s first shut-out of the season with a score of 5 – nada, zip, zero, rien, nula, goose-egg, nothing. Final shots on goal: 27 – 34 for Peterborough (the score sheet says 36 for Peterborough but in the arena it showed 34).

Thoughts on the Game: This was a great game with lots of end-to-end energy, scoring opportunities and aggressive play. While not my preference, I would rather see the 67s lose with this same kind of effort than some of the losses that we have seen.

I was chatting with Robbie Lawrance at the prospects game and told him that they beat the Petes once and they can do it again. Both games we’ve seen here in the Civic Centre (including tonight’s game) were probably the best games we have seen them play. Our team can play really really well for 60 minutes when they care to. Everyone contributed.

The Petes did have more offense in the third period but the 67s still outplayed them. For the whole game Danny gave up very few rebounds and those that he did were cleared away and out of danger. Kiriakous played outstandingly. The guy showed exceptional second effort and was my pick for hardest working 67. Lawrance played really well with confidence. It sure would be nice to know the stats on blocked shots.

The Petes on the other hand were did not play admirably. One could even say they were nasty. It’s surprising that they don’t have a higher team PIM than they do (965 vs Ottawa’s 836 going into tonight’s game)

Beer has never been a favourite ref of mine and he reinforced my impression tonight. He missed some obvious crap right under his nose including a clothes-hanging-with-a-stick offense on Reid (?) by Kaletta in the third period. It is exactly this type of poor refereeing that results in players getting hurt and other players needing to settle the score. We will likely lose the services of Captain Julian Talbot for at least another game because he needed to protect his guy because the guy with the whistle and rule book didn’t.

The new guys, Liscomb and Grimaldi are great additions to the team. I was certain that there was going to be a dust-up between Grimaldi and just about anyone from the Petes. He works hard, sets up well, hits hard, and gets under the skin but not in a creepy-Downie sort of way. Liscomb seems to see the ice well and fly under the radar to make his contribution. As the Team 1200 guys said, he is very responsible with the puck.

While the team members have been discrete, I seriously wonder if the locker room is much better with these two guys than with Bickell. My sense is that Liscomb and Grimaldi have had a bigger impact on the team in their short stay than Bryan had in his whole tenure.

Tomorrow’s game should be very interesting. The Pete’s are returning to their own barn having been seriously burnt by an 8th place team (going into tonight’s game). They will not take it lightly but I also expect that the refs will do a better job. The ejections of Talbot and Soryal will have to be reviewed so the line-ups may look different.

Three Stars:
#1 – Danny Battochio (34 (or 36) saves many of which were outstanding saves)
#2 – Logan Couture (2 goals)
#3 – Joe Grimaldi (goal and an assist)

Hardest working 67: all the rest but the Team 1200 guys singled out Brent Liscomb.

Cheers and see everyone at Sunday’s game!

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