March 18, 2007

Just Ran Outta Gas – Sudbury Wins 6 - 4

The second meeting of these two teams this year and this one meant something – a decision between 6th and 7th place. The 6th round finisher would face Mississauga and the 7th round team would face Belleville. A particular problem with a Belleville – Ottawa match up is that neither arena is available next weekend so the schedule would most likely be delayed and then compressed.

Sudbury came well rested into this afternoon’s game after losses in their last two games: 4 -1 loss to Toronto on March 11th (last Sunday) and a 5 – 3 loss to Kingston on Friday (march 16th).

Ottawa came into today’s game playing their 4th game in 5 days: a 6 – 1 loss in Belleville on Wednesday, 7 – 4 win over Oshawa on Friday, and a 5 – 3 win over Oshawa yesterday (March 17th).

Sudbury player notes: not dressing were Tyler Arps, J.K. Gill, Alain Valiquet, Justin Larson and troubled child Akim Aliu. There’s a whole thread on NOOF on his situation http://www.rinkratmag.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21762 ). Backup Michael Swick was in net.

Ottawa player notes: Matt McDougall, Matt Lahey (4th game out with a knee injury), Jordan Gallea, and Brett Liscomb (lower body injury) did not dress. Number 1 Brady Morrison backstopped the team.

Lines for tonight: Another messy situation for the better part of two periods and a short bench to boot so the lines approximated:

McGinn, Couture, Alphonso
Methot, Kiriakou, Bailey
Nesbitt, Cowie, Cimadamore
Ribeiro, Lindsay and double shifters that I lost track of

Defensive pairings: Joslin – Grimaldi, Cuma – Demers/Vojta, Beard – Ryan and some other combos depending on the situation.

Even though these two teams only play twice a year in the regular season, these have been chippy tough affairs since I’ve been attending these games. And today wasn’t any different. If you don’t believe me, here are a couple of stats for you: 21 penalties and 3 fights in the first 20 minutes. Here’s the score sheet for all the details: http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/stats/official-game-report.php?game_id=12990. Suffice to say that there was very little 5-on-5 play.

So, to the highlights…Ottawa was first on the scoreboard during a 5-on-3 power play with Sudbury’s Andrew Self in the box for hooking followed by Zach McCullough’s goaltender interference call. Grimaldi fired one of his cannon shots from mid-way across the blueline and Aaron Alphonso tipped it past Swick at 5:13 into the first period. Jamie McGinn got the other assist. But the lead didn’t stand too long as Sudbury was able to score a short handed goal because of Ottawa turnovers in their own zone. Justin Donati evened it up less than a minute after Ottawa got its first goal. Couture and McGinn warmed the bench for a while after that one. Tsk tsk boys.

I didn’t catch all the action but as the period neared the halfway mark, 19-year olds Jason Bailey and Zach McCullough mixed it up. If I were to reconstruct the scene only by what is recorded on the scoresheet (sound like CSI or Bones to you??), it might have gone down something like: Zach cross checked Bailey who in turn elbowed Zach and then Bailey started a fight in which Zach willingly participated. Zach got a total of 7 minutes and Bailey got 19 (2 for elbowing, 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct). He was gone for the period. The fight took place right in front of (and almost in) the Sudbury bench.

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Five minutes later a couple of rookies went at it. This one I did see from the beginning. Sudbury 18-year old Geoff Guimond didn’t like the neat hip check by Tyler Cuma as Geoff was approaching the Ottawa blue line along the far wall so he decided he needed to take action. For his efforts he was assessed 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and a couple of 10 minute misconducts. So he too was gone for the period. Cuma got 2 for fighting but it seemed he spent much more time in the penalty box. As for the tilt, Cuma held his own – can’t call it.

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Then Sudbury captain Marc Staal took offense at a hit by our resident bad boy Logan Couture. Yup, that renowned thug and all around bully Logan Couture with an astonishing 22 PIMs in 53 games. Well, the scrum was on and it was hard to tell from across the ice just who was doing what to whom. As the refs untangled the bodies Logan was escorted to the sin-bin but after it was sorted out his sentence was overturned and Sudbury’s Devin DiDiomete got 2 for cross checking and 2 for roughing and Marc Staal got 2 for roughing and 2 for holding.

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With just over three minutes left in the period, Jamie McGinn restored the lead with his 45th goal of the year and his 6th power play goal of the weekend on another 5-on-3 (I believe, I can’t be bothered to reconstruct the dance card). Logan Couture and Jakub Vojta got the assists.

A couple more penalties rounded out the first frame of the game that ended with Ottawa ahead by one with a score of 2 – 1 with the shots 14 – 6 for Ottawa, and no bodies.

The second period was peppered with 11 penalties (5 to Sudbury and 6 to Ottawa). One might surmise that either the players got smarter (ya right!) and / or the refs were getting too tired to lift the massive whistles to their tired lips to make the calls. Conditioning is everything. Reffing is such hard work.

Right off the opening face off, it started up again. This time it was Sudbury’s nearly 21 year old Calgary prospect Devin DiDiomete taking on rookie 17 year old Julien Demers. Didn’t see what set this off but it was a good tilt that I will give to Julien simply due to the difference in age and OHL experience. He did get rag-dolled at one point but he came back to lay a couple on DiDiomete before it all ended. Really – taking on a rookie. Is there no honour among the Sudbury players? So, on to the hockey game….Sudbury’s Patrik Lusnak tied it up just over halfway through the period on the powerplay while Logan Couture was off for a hooking call as he tried to break up a Sudbury scoring chance.

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With just under 2 minutes left in the period, Julien Demers restored the Ottawa lead with his 2nd goal of the year as he finished off a terrific effort by Aaron Alphonso who carried the puck up the ice to create the scoring chance.

So the second period ended with the score 3 – 2 with the shots on goal 22 – 20 for Ottawa

The 4 games in 5 days were finally catching up with Ottawa as Sudbury totally dominated the third period. And there was only 1 penalty called in the third – against Ottawa. More on that later.

Sudbury tied the game just 37 seconds into the final frame on a goal by Kevin Baker. Then at the 8:00 minute mark, on a combination of not getting organized and a bad bounce Matt Dias scored unassisted to give Sudbury the first lead of the afternoon. Then Andrew Self provided some room just 3 minutes later followed by yet more room at the 16:20 mark by another Kevin Baker goal. Ottawa was pretty much pinned all of the period but did manage to score on one of their 5 shots on Swick when Jamie McGinn ended the regular season with his 46th goal of the year assisted by Logan Couture.

And so Ottawa’s regular season ended on a losing note with a 6 – 4 loss against Sudbury. Final shots on goal were 27 – 33 for Sudbury.

Stars for the game:

1. Matt Dias (Sudbury goal and an assist)
2. Nick Foligno (Sudbury 2 assists)
3. Aaron Alphonso (goal and an assist and lots of hard work)

Team 1200 Hardest working 67: for the second game in a row, Julien Demers with a goal, a fight and good defensive work. A great addition to the team since December.

Random Thoughts:

  • While one might lament that this one was a winnable game that Ottawa let get away, I have no problems with today’s loss per se. You could see that the 4 games in 5 days were catching up with them. I would bet on rested 67s team taking on a rested Sudbury team any day of the week.
  • The only real complaint is about those short handed goals. Guys – this is the end of the season, the communications should be sorted out by how. Stop it already!!
  • Morrison stoned Foligno on his breakaway only to be hung out by the guys on the response. Great first save Brady!
  • About the penalties…it is inconceivable to me that a pattern of 21 penalties in the first, 11 penalties in the second and 1 (ONE!) in the third is because the players got suddenly smarter.
  • About the fights. My sister-in-law does not like these at all. She turns her head away when they happen. I’m old fashioned enough to believe that they are part of the game. Props to the 67s players – you held your own against the continually chippy Wolves.
  • Listened to most of the interview with Liscomb. He was out today with a “lower body injury”. He thought he could have played today but Killer thought he should rest up. He was missed.
  • The photos in Friday’s blog are courtesy of Sid. Well done Sid.
  • Today I tried being the photog. I borrowed a higher-end digital camera from a friend and went down to the glass for two of the periods. Unfortunately most of the play was at the other end. It also meant that I couldn’t take notes too well during the game. It’s different watching the game through the view finder. I hope to post some of the better pictures later when I figure out how to do that.
  • I forgot to mention in yesterday’s blog that I had a chance to chat with a couple members of the Gloucester Rangers minor midget team that were sitting in front of me. Oshawa’s Corey Cowick is one of their own and they were there to cheer him on. The Gloucester Rangers will be traveling to Mississauga this week to participate in the OHL Showcase Tournament for the OHL Cup. This is the draft year for two of the players I chatted with. Here’s wishing them a good tournament as a team and a good chance to showcase their individual talents before the May 5th OHL draft. With Ottawa getting the 6th pick we might see one of these guys in a 67s uni one day.

So the regular season is now done. Ottawa finishes its 40th regular season as an OHL organization and 30th year under Brian Kilrea’s leadership 30-34-0-4 for 64 points in the conference. Team scoring leader, Jamie McGinn finished 17th in the league with his regular OHL season career high of 46 goals and 43 assists for 89 points and he didn’t miss a game. The next closest 67s was Logan Couture with 26 goals and 52 assists for 78 points in 54 regular season games for 33rd in the league. From our defensive corps, captain Derek Joslin finished 104th in the league with 11 goals and 37 assists for 48 points in 68 games (perfect attendance!). Our highest ranking rookie was Cody Lindsay who finished 192nd overall in the league with 9 goals and 18 assists for 27 points in 64 games. And finally, our goalies ranked 15th (Lukas Flueler) and 17th (Morrison) in the GAA rankings, and 11th and 18th respectively in the save percentage rankings.

The team had its ups and downs in the regular season but with their play in the last three games, especially of the specialty teams (particularly if they get that SHG thing fixed), they could play the spoilers. They have a tough first round but they could catch Belleville snoozing if taken too lightly.

I have faith – play like Pittsburg – you really don’t have anything to lose.

See you for round one – whenever it starts.

Go 67s Go!

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