October 29, 2006

Soo Long and Thanks for the 1,100th Win for Kilrea!

A 4 – 1 win today over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds nets Brian Kilrea his 1,100th career win – the most in junior hockey!! Now that’s a career!! Congratulations Coach and congratulations team. It was a good win. The coaching staff from the Greyhounds crossed the ice at the end of the game to offer their congratulations – nice touch. Elgin Reid handed Coach the puck as he and his team mates congratulated him. In this business, you gotta be doing something right to hit such a milestone.

According to Google Maps, it’s about 13 1/2 hours from Ottawa to Sault Ste. Marie (SSM). Even with a win, that’s a long way to go. Having lost their last two on the road, I think that must be the longest road trip in the league.

Ottawa scratches for the game: Couture, Ribeiro, Daley, Beard and Kiriakou. Didn’t get the official report on Kiriakou but he was pretty sore from a blocked shot on Friday late in the second period. He played the third period but it looked like it still hurt so my guess is that it was still pretty sore and/or he couldn’t get his skate on. The Greyhounds were without Payton Liske, Brett Halstead and Jacob Lalonde. Matt Hasche started in goal.

SSM has played two more games than Ottawa and sits in 7th place in the west coming into this afternoon’s game with a record of 7 wins, 6 losses and 2 shoot-out losses. Ottawa is in 9th place in the east with a record of 5 wins and 8 losses.

Their top 3 scorers are Dustin Jeffery (24 points), Cody Thornton (18) and Josh Godfrey (15). Their big sinners are Brad Good (who must be a tad bad) with 37 PIMS, Brandon Biggers (32) and Tyler Cuthbert (32).

For Ottawa, our top three guns, relatively speaking, are Jamie McGinn (14), Jesse Biduke (12) and Arron Alphonso (11). On the sin-bin side we have Joe Grimaldi (35), Jakub Vojta (24) and Elgin Reid (19).

Lines for tonight:
Lahey, Liscomb, McGinn
Alphonso, Kewin, Biduke
Pleckaitis, Jukosky, Gallea
Nesbitt, Lindsay, and cameo appearances by other forwards – sometimes McGinn, sometimes Biduke, sometimes ??

Defensive pairings:
Gimaldi – Joslin
Cuma – Reid
Ryan - Vojta

This was certainly one of the better games played by Ottawa. And it was certainly a blue-collar type game to me. Nothing fancy, lots of penalties handed out (23), lots of hard work, good hits, some fast up and down the ice, good saves and a fight (more on that later).

The first period was dominated by penalties (7 handed out – 3 to Ottawa and 4 to SSM) so the specialty teams were spending most of the time on the ice (PK and PP units). The defensive play seriously limited the scoring opportunities on both sides; shots on goal at the end of the period were 6 – 7 for Ottawa. Ottawa finally drew first blood at about the halfway mark while on a 5-on-three powerplay. Joe Grimaldi notched his first of the season I believe with a shot from the left face-off circle that went in high and hit the back cross-bar for the score. Joslin and Liscomb got the assists. They were unable to score on the back half of that penalty pairing. The period ended with Ottawa ahead with the lone goal.

Ottawa started the second period with a brief powerplay but were unable to convert. The Soo did a pretty good job of keeping Ottawa to the outside to really reduce the dangerous shots on goal. Jamie McGinn had a breakaway early in the period but was unable to get around the defender. Then the Soo had a great breakaway (didn’t get the number) but Morrison made a great save! The Soo had a 31 second 5-on-3 opportunity and Cuma got the vote of confidence to be part of the defensive squad (with Grimaldi and Liscomb). They did what they were supposed to do and killed the penalty. Another penalty riddled period with 4 each side. When Shea Kewin was doing a time-out for boarding a Soo player, the team displayed some really excellent second effort to kill the penalty. Among the efforts was Kyle Jukosky getting the puck into the Soo defensive zone and keeping it on the boards to kill time in the penalty. The 67s finally scored on a powerplay with 33 seconds left in the period when Shea Kewin was left all alone in front of the Soo goalie where he buried the puck behind Hache. Biduke and Alphonso got assists. The period ended with Ottawa up by two, a goal late in the period and shots on goal even at 14.

Nothing like carrying on from where you left off. A great individual effort by Aaron Alphonso (is this the same guy from last year?!) resulted in an odd, yet perfectly countable goal. Aaron managed to muscle around Michel Quesnele and although he actually fanned on the puck, it slid under the pads of Matt Hache to put Ottawa up by 3 just 32 seconds into the third frame. That’s one that Hache would dearly love to have back. Then, about a minute and a half into the game, Matt Lahey droped the gloves to have a go at Tyler Cuthbert. None of us could figure out what that was all about but Matt certainly held his own and got the take-down. Both were sent off to consider the consequences of their actions. Cuthbert left the ice temporarily (presumably for repairs). The speed really picked up and there were tons of turn-overs on both sides.

Again, we saw some terrific second efforts from the Ottawa squad on the penalty kills. Morrison made a couple of great saves, smothering the puck and not allowing the rebound, Liscomb making a stretch that is rather remarkable for someone his size to poke the puck across the blue line. All the stuff you really like to see – like they really cared about the play around them. To the Greyhound’s credit, they did a remarkable job keeping play to the outside and reducing good scoring chances. Killer gave his 16 year olds a lot of ice time and they used it wisely. Morrison’s potential shutout was lost with just 2:12 left in the game when the Soo finally scored on the power play when Jacob Muzzin scored one from the point. The Greyhounds tried to make a game of it and pulled their goalie late in the period but the Soo could not contain the 67s. Shea Kewin got an empty netter with 47 seconds left to play. It wasn’t announced by Alphonso got credited with the assist on the official score sheet. Final shots on goal: 26 - 22 for Ottawa.

So the team put in a really good effort tonight. Certainly no one to criticize. Everyone worked hard. You sure do have to like what we have in the young guys. Cuma is really showing what a good defenseman he is and what he could be in the future. Great draft!! Killer is showing his confidence in these kids with the ice time they are getting and the situations he is putting them in (PK/PP). I am really looking forward to the day we have a full, healthy squad.

Three stars of the game:

1. Brady Morrison (21 saves on 22 shots)
2. Aaron Alphonso (goal and two assists)
3. Jacob Muzzin (SSM 1 goal)

Hardest working 67: Shea Kewin

Have a fun and safe Halloween everyone!

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