The evening started with a couple of notable moments. The club played a nice video of Kilrea’s hockey career to acknowledge his 1,100th win last Sunday. The whole thing was pretty low key ‘cause I expect that that’s what he wanted. Then some guy (didn’t catch the name) presented Jamie McGinn and James Neal with jersey’s to acknowledge their selection to the OHL team in the Canada – Russia series. And finally Dennis Hull, a member of team Canada in the 1972 Canada - Russia series (as well as other teams but let’s face it – the 72 series was important!) was on hand for the ceremonial puck drop.
Another visit from a team from the far reaches of the league. It’s about 11 ½ hours from Plymouth Michigan to Ottawa and the Whalers were here to start a pretty tough weekend road trip. Ottawa tonight, Belleville tomorrow evening, Kingston Sunday afternoon and then back on the bus for a 9 hour trip home.
Plymouth was missing Jozef Sladok, John Armstrong and Zack Shepley tonight and dressed Brett Bellemore. Their big guns coming into the game were Evan Brophy (20 points), James Neal (19) and Dan Collins and Tom Sestito both with 11. As for the guys who get in the most trouble, they were Jared Boll (49 PIMS), Chris Terry (24) and Ryan McGinnis (22). Plymouth had the second best penalty kill on the road in the league having allowed only 10 goals on 73 shots on net. As for their power play on the road, Plymouth ranked 20th in the league having scored 7 goals on 64 advantages. And by my reckoning they were about 7th overall in the number of PIMS.
We were still missing Couture and Ribeiro(given another week to recover), Beard and Daley. Our top point getters were Jesse Biduke, Arron Alphonso and Jamie McGinn all with 14 points. PIM leaders for Ottawa: Joe Grimaldi (37), Jakub Voyta (24), Derek Joslin and Elgin Reid both with 19. Ottawa had the 4th best PK at home in the league having allowed 6 goals on 46 shots. Our PP at home was 13th in the league having scored 9 goals in 49 advantages. The 67s had the least PIMS in the league going into tonight’s game.
Lines for tonight – well this was pretty meaningless given that there was probably about 6 minutes of 5 on 5 play tonight. But, for brief moments, the lines might have looked something like:
Lahey, Liscomb, McGinn
Alphonso, Kiriakou, Biduke
Jukosky, Pleckaitis, Kewin
Nesbitt, Lindsay, Gallea
Gimaldi – Joslin
Cuma – Reid
Ryan - Vojta
Well, it certainly wasn’t pretty but it’s still 2 points. Referee David Gauthier started as he meant to go on and called the first penalty of the game a scant 22 seconds into the game. The game sheet notes that it went to Grimaldi but for some reason my memory wants to suggest it was Alphonso. En tout cas, (anyways) the 67s were on the penalty kill early. They did a pretty good job – registering 2 shots on goal to Plymouth’s one shot on goal. Then, with the man advantage, Elgin Reid put Ottawa on the board with his second goal of the season with a one-timer from the point that went through the 5-hole on Plymouth goalie Jeremy Smith. Shea Kewin and Joe Pleckaitis got the assists on that one. Then the penalty parade started in earnest. Plymouth isn’t near the top of the league in PKs for nothin’. Ottawa had a couple of 5-on-3 advantages in the first period but were unable to bury their shots. Their goalie also made some great saves. Did I mention that he’s a rookie? If he keeps this up (he is the 4th ranked goalie in the league), he’s gonna do really well.
At about the half-way mark, Plymouth tied it up on a short handed goal when Brady Morrison played the puck into the corner but there weren’t any 67s there (a line change??). Plymouth’s James Neal was there to get it by Morrison with the assistance of Evan Brophy. That didn’t last long. A mere 14 seconds later, Jamie McGinn scored his 9th goal of the season and the game’s only even-strength goal when he beat Smith over his shoulder on the short side with a shot from the edge of the right face-off circle.
At about 3-quarters through the period, Shea Kewin took a mighty exception to how a Plymouth player (Ryan McGinnis??) treated Joe Pleckaitis and wasted no time in expressing just how vexed he was. No dancing, no posturing, just wham bam and suddenly both are on the ice. Hard to call it but I would give it to Kewin just for the surprise element. They were both sent off for fighting but Kewin earned a 10-minute misconduct for instigating the whole darn thing. On the up side – message sent. The period ended with Ottawa up by 1, ahead on shots on goal (12 – 7) and on the PK (Biduke off for hooking)
The second period was just plain weird. Plymouth could do no right (10 power plays given to Ottawa!) and Ottawa couldn’t do a darn thing with all the advantages. There were, what, at least three 5 on 3 opportunities for Ottawa. Do ya think they could score on, oh I don’t know, maybe ONE OF THEM! Didn’t happen. Who do they think they are – the Ottawa Senators! Between the excellent penalty killing of Plymouth and the outstanding goal tending of Smith (were there any rebounds??), it just didn’t happen for the barberpoles. I actually think that the PK units were getting tired! Neither team scored in the second. Shots on goal after 2: 27 – 10 for Ottawa.
The third period started with 4-on-4 but I was secretly wondering when Plymouth was going to tie it up. It just seemed like they had a tad of the momentum. Oh me of little faith – just 1:14 into the period, Brett Liscomb, on a great demonstration of individual effort, on a PK, picked up the puck in the neutral zone, drove for the net and pushed it under Smith for what turned out to be the game-winning goal! Jamie McGinn got the assist. The rest of the period saw Ottawa on the receiving end of the ref’s attention with 8 penalties (resulting in 7 PP opportunities for the Whalers). Plymouth was finally able to score on the PP but they needed the un-credited assist of an Ottawa player (went off an Ottawa stick).
Plymouth tried to make a game of it right to the end, pulling Smith with 1:06 to go but it was not to be.
Ottawa won the game 3 – 2. Final shots on goal 34 – 20. Well done gentlemen. It's looking good!
Three stars of the game:
1. Jamie McGinn (goal and an assist)
2. Jeremy Smith (Plymouth goalie with 31 saves – kept the team in the game!)
3. Joe Grimaldi (just a whole lotta really good defensive work – good job!)
Hardest working 67: Thomas Kirakou
The team gets a week’s rest and time to prepare for Kitchener next Friday.
See ya next week.