February 11, 2006

Spirit Exorcized by Ottawa: 4 – 1

It’s Saginaw’s turn to make the long swing through the Eastern Conference. The trip started badly for them with a 6 – 1 loss in Peterborough last night. I didn’t get a chance to prepare my game sheet tonight as I pretty much went straight to the game from work. #1 67 fan from the team discussion board did a nice job of setting up tonight’s game. See: http://www.ottawa67s.com/67s/vBulletin/showthread.php?t=2474

Saginaw was without Tom Mannino, Anthony Soboczynski, and Matt Corrente. For Ottawa, healthy scratches were Brent Mackie and 12 Joe Pleckaitis. Robbie Lawrance was down with the flu and Danny Battochio was dressed but spent the evening in sick bay with the flu. Brady Morrison got the start. Tibot Raduly’s parents and sister were at the game from Slovakia tonight. Wonder what they think of it all.

First Period: I guess the second line might be the new top line as Logan, Ouellette and Lahey started with Beard and Grimaldi on D. Coming into tonight’s game, Saginaw had the second worst road penalty kill in the league and we saw why real soon. Two and a half minutes into the game Jesse Gimblett interfered on Brady and they paid for it less than 20 seconds later. Derek Joslin fired one at the net from inside the blue line and Jamie McGinn redirected it over the shoulder of Francois Tuot. Julian Talbot got the other assist. Very shortly after that, Jacub Vojta was called for interference but Ottawa did a fine job of killing the penalty. Actually, Liscomb had a really good chance at the short-handed goal but was denied by Tuot. At about 6 ½ minutes in, Saginaw’s Garret Sinfield interfered on Christ Hulit and Ottawa was back on the power play but they didn’t do such a fine job with the advantage – didn’t even get a shot on net for the entire two minutes. After deftly killing another penalty, this time McGinn was taking a time out, Shea Kewin and Tibor Raduly teamed up for the second goal at 11:26 into the period. Tibor worked hard around the back of the net to get the puck out to Shea in front of the net who got it by Tuot. That was the second goal in 5 shots on goal. Scott Fletcher was cooling his heels on a hooking call when Ottawa quickly took advantage again. Logan Couture got the gift of a nice pass to the open side of the net for his 19th goal of the year. Tuot didn’t have a chance. Pat Lahey and Pat Ouellette earned assists on the goal.

At the end of the first period, Ottawa led 3 – 0 with shots on goal 10 – 14 in Saginaw’s favour.

Second Period: The second period snooze button hit Ottawa again. The 67s had two chances with 5 on 3 – on for 46 seconds and another for 1:08 but they could not get one past Tuot. One of the Saginaw penalties was called in the Ottawa zone and Ottawa had control of the puck. It looked like they were waiting for a whistle instead of playing aggressively with the delayed call. Ottawa actually had a whole long stretch of advantage that they just couldn’t convert into a goal. To his credit, Tuot made some nice saves and I think the goal post got one too. It almost seemed that the Barberpoles played better 5-on-5 than they did with an extra man. They kept their noses clean though with only one penalty while Saginaw had a long list of infractions: hooking, tripping, interference, too many men and a 10 minutes misconduct for some unpleasant conversation.

The period ended without any additional goals and the shots on goal were 23 – 20 for Ottawa.

Third Period: Ottawa picked up its play somewhat with an early scoring chance on the rush and yet another man advantage. Unfortunately neither worked out for the boys. The only big error that cost the 67s came within the first two minutes when some sloppy sloppy play in their own zone cost Brady his shut out. Pat Lahey missed picking up the puck along the boards and the turnover allowed Saginaw’s Jamie Kile to pick up the puck, skate in and snap one into the right corner past Brady. It wasn’t long after that that Grimaldi shortened a power play when he got called for holding. During the ensuing Saginaw power play, they pressed hard and between Brady and the goalpost, Ottawa came out clean. Saginaw was playing like they wanted back in the game but they ran out of room at about the halfway mark when Pat Ouellette scored when Logan worked hard behind the Saginaw net to get the puck to Pat who put it nicely over the goaltender’s shoulder to restore the 3 goal lead. Pat Lahey got an assist on that one. With about 6 minutes to go, Saginaw’s backup goalie, Ryan Daniels, made a nice glove save when the puck was deflected into the bench. The Asylum appreciated his fine athleticism with some friendly cheers.

There was some good back and forth play but Ottawa pretty much dominated the period. There were a lot of blocked shots by both teams. With about 45 seconds left to play and Ottawa clearly looking at a win, tempers flared big time. It didn’t look like a particularly chippy game up to then so I have no idea what sparked the melee. First, Tibor Radulay and Michal Birner got tangled in the corner to the right of the Saginaw goalie. Berner was called for slashing but before the ref barely finished whistling the play, a punch-up started in front of the penalty boxes. I missed the debut but from the video replay, it looked like a linesman was standing between Grimaldi and a Saginaw player when Grimaldi reached across and punched his opponent. Then there were more sweater numbers than I could keep track of but it seems that Kewin and, Radulay from the 67s were involved. Then, D-man Scott Fletcher jumped over the boards and took a run at Couture. Couture wanted nothing of it (not a bad idea since Fletch has 4 inches and 30 pounds on him). Elgin Reed didn’t like what was developing and left the bench to stand up for Logan. They did the sweater dance and I think Elgin took at least one in the beak but it was pretty much uneventful. Meanwhile, Grimaldi took a bit of a pounding but I don’t think he went down. When the dust settled, a whole lotta penalties were handed out and a number of players were escorted off the ice. When the official announcements were made, Logan was included in the list but the score sheet does not have him listed for anything. 4 Saginaw players were assessed game misconducts and Fletcher got a game misconduct as well as a gross misconduct. 4 Ottawa players were assessed game misconducts: Grimaldi, Kewin, Radulay and Ried. My seat mate said he saw Branch in the arena. Wonder how long it will take for the OHL to sort this out. If I understand correctly, all game misconducts result in a review by the league. The gross misconduct might mean 10 games for Fletcher.

Final score: 4 – 1 with shots on goal 39 – 33 – both numbers in Ottawa’s favour.

Thoughts: Well, they did it again. And we’re glad to see this at home. They showed that they can play some decent hockey for almost a whole game. And now they are on a two-game winning streak. Their defense seems to be getting better and better but the offense teamings still struggle to find the right timing in front of the net. And the power play needs some work. Ottawa went 2 / 9 tonight with a couple of 5 on 3 advantages that they couldn’t convert. There was a lot to like tonight and I’m really looking forward to the home stretch. If they want to move up the standings, they will need to string together a number of really strong performances. On the upside, they only have one more three-game road trip left in the schedule and they all their home weekends are Friday-Sunday combos. On the down side, almost all the teams ahead of them in the standings have a game or two in hand.

Three Stars of the Game:

First Star: Logan Couture (goal and assist)
Second Star: Brady Morrison (32 saves and some of them really important)
Third Star: Pat Ouellette (goal and an assist)

Hardest Working 67: Jamie McGinn


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