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October 16, 2006

Wasn’t Much of a Storm After All

Now this was a good game. But to be fair, Guelph was playing their third game on the road having beaten Kingston on Friday, lost to Belleville on Saturday evening and now playing Sunday afternoon in Ottawa. That’s got to be tiring. But that’s how the schedule unfolds.

Ottawa scratches for the game: Couture, Ribeiro, and Ryan. For Guelph, I only noted on scratch – Anthony Nigro.

Other items of note – Lukas Flueler’s parents were in town from Switzerland to see their boy play. Gotta wonder what they think of Major Junior hockey in Canada. Imagine sending your young lad across the pond to a strange land to be cared for by strangers in the name of hockey. I have to think that it’s a scary prospect for parents.

Coming into the game Ottawa had the second stingiest penalty kill at home in the league while Guelph had the 11th best road power play. Guelph has also played 3 more games than Ottawa.

The Ottawa lines were basically:

McGinn, Kewin, and Lahey
Alphonso, Liscomb and Daley
Nesbitt, Lindsay, and Biduke
Gallea, Kiriakou, and Pleckaitis

I didn’t note all the defensive pairings (sorry).

Ottawa started like they meant business. Flueler stopped his first shot on goal (always a good thing). Then they got down to business. Before the first minute of play was up, new acquisition Jesse Biduke picked up a juicy rebound off Cuma’s shot and put Ottawa on the board at :54 into the period. Liscomb got the assist (noted much later in the game but not recorded on the score sheet). Just to put an exclamation point on it, 16 seconds later, rookie Thomas Nesbitt got credit for a goal that bounced in off his skate in the crease. Biduke and Lindsay got assists on that one. So, at 1:11 into the game, Ottawa was already up by two. And the home fans are some happy!

The boys did not sit back on this early success at all. They kept driving the net, getting the big jumps and winning face-offs. Some great scoring chances too! One of them was a great steal by Pat Daley who centred it out of the corner to Alphonso. The Guelph goalie, Jason Guy had to make a good save on that one.

At our end, the puck-luck was with us. There was a tremendous scramble in front of our net. We sit down low to the ice closer to the visitors’ defending net in the first and third periods so it’s hard to see what exactly is happening in front of our net in the first and third periods but it sure looked like pandemonium for this flurry of activity. Somehow Lukas and the team managed to keep Guelph from scoring.

At the 14:17 mark of the period, Brett Liscomb put Ottawa up by three with a beautiful display of patience and finesse. He had the puck breaking in on the goalie and slowed down enough to make Guy commit then he nicely backhanded it from the slot. Nice! Alphonso and Reid got the assists.

It was the best 20 minutes of play from our team that I’ve seen in a long time. Feet were moving, passes were crisp, ice-sense of each other seemed good and they were aggressive. It was great to watch!

After 20 the shots on goal were 16 – 8 for Ottawa.

I took fewer notes from here on in as it was just so much fun to watch. My memory is crappy without notes so my apologies if the following is not too detailed.

I did note that, while not rolling 4 lines all the time in sequence, all 4 lines did get ice time. Guelph started to pick up their game a tad and managed to match Ottawa’s shots on goal but it seemed to me that the Ottawa defenders were doing a pretty good job of forcing the Guelph attackers to the outside and leaving them with pretty lousy shots that Lukas could easily stop. He gave out some juicy rebounds (gotta work on that) but they seemed to land on the sticks of Ottawa players more often than not (that puck-luck thing). The referee seemed to let up on his calls against Guelph perhaps in the interest of making a game of it. Alphonso got a really bad elbow in the chops right in front of us and not all that far from the ref who seemed to miss the event entirely. This, of course, encouraged me and others to remind the ref that the game is actually at least 60 minutes and he should call the entire game or buy a ticket to watch what he won’t call. The ref seemed particularly indifferent to what the Guelph players were doing with their elbows but perhaps that’s a homer’s view.

Anyways, at 5:31 into the period, Aaron Alphonso, that guy who’s coming out of nowhere this year to floor us with his play, makes it 4 – 0 when he followed his own rebound to get it past the Guelph goalie. Reid and Liscomb get the assists. At the very end of the period, Jamie McGinn gave a Guelph player a gentle nudge in the chops with his elbow. It all looked rather friendly among the guys sorta thing but the ref thought otherwise (despite having missed all sorts of blatant shots earlier in the period). Up went the arm. Guelph’s Leigh Salters (second in PIMS for Guelph) thought it wasn’t so friendly and got right into Jamie’s face about it (had to crouch a bit for it but was in Jamie’s face none the less). Jamie didn’t back down an inch and was almost itching for Salters to drop the gloves. Salters didn’t bite and was finally pulled away by his sweater. I’d give it to Jamie for the stare-down and attitude. He grinned through the whole thing. Couldn't make out what he was saying but I'm pretty sure it wasn't about the weather.

The second period ended with Ottawa still leading shots on goal 25 – 20.

The third period wasn’t the best for Ottawa for discipline. They had to kill McGinn’s penalty and then Joe Gimaldi got three of the four penalties in the third with the fourth being a bench minor for too many men on the ice. At about the halfway mark with Joe off for two two minute minors (cross checking and roughing), Guelph pulled their goalie for the sixth man! Ottawa got possession and was setting up for a goal (Alphonso I believe) when Guelph’s little Rotter (yes that’s the player’s name) broke up the chance. There was a lot of scrambling in Guelph’s zone as the goalie could not get back on the ice.

Having stumped Guelph’s powerplay 7 times, Guelph finally beat Lukas late in the third period. Oh well. For the record, Grimaldi didn’t make it back on the ice. On a funnier note, two Guelph players checked each other in the Guelph defensive zone. It really wasn’t a good day for the Storm.

So, the boys finally put together a great game that was really entertaining at home. Lots to feel good about. On a down note, Alphonso seemed to hurt his wrist – perhaps a break which will be really bad for the team as they really need his energy and fire power.

Points came today from the 2nd and 3rd lines. Kiriakou played a lot on the penalty kill – he does really well on the face-off. And our new additions, rookies and Jesse, are doing really well. Gonna be an exciting couple of years.

Final Score: 4 -1 Ottawa with shots on goal 34-35 for Guelph.

Three stars of the game:

Aaron Alphonso (goal and assist)
Lukas Flueler (34 saves and first OHL win)
Jesse Biduke (goal and assist)

Hardest working 67: Brett Liscomb

Ciao folks!

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