October 07, 2007

Revenge of the Fonz

An absolutely beautiful Thanksgiving weekend Sunday and there are still a few die-hard fans the Civic Centre to see the CHL number 1 ranked team in the country, the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds take on the number 3 ranked Ottawa 67s. It was also Aaron Alphonzo’s first time in the barn in another jersey as he was traded in June for a couple of draft picks.

Ottawa lineup changes:
Jon Carnevale, Sean Ryan, Jordan Gallea and Matt Ribeiro were scratches today. 16-year old Chris Perugini was between the pipes.

Sault Ste Marie lineup changes:
Jake Carrick, Dylan King and Jamie Haines were scratches. 20-year old Kyle Gajewski started in net for the Greyhounds.

Ottawa Lines (in the first period anyway):
JMcGinn, Couture, Lahey
Methot, Latta, Bailey
Cowie, Kiriakou, Nesbitt
TMcGinn, Lindsay, Martindale (not sure if Martindale played centre)

Defensive pairings:

First Period:
The line rotation started with the Cowie, Kiriakou, Nesbitt line with the Ostrcil / Paryzek paring. It took a while for anything to really get started and neither team had registered a shot on goal for the first 5 and a half minutes, including an Ottawa power play opportunity when Josh Godfrey was called for a cross-check on Latta. It was being played very defensively by both teams and even after a second power play Ottawa only managed a total of 2 shots on Gajewski.

At about the halfway mark, Ottawa was assessed its first penalty when Radim Ostrcil was sent off for two for slashing. The Greyhounds were able to mount some offensive action but were not able to put one up on the board. They continued to put pretty good pressure on Ottawa and finally get the first goal when Aaron Alphonso was able to put a rebound past Perugini after some digging and poking. Dustin Jeffery and Michael Quesnele got the assists.

The physical play picked up and the Greyhounds were carrying the play in the last 5 minutes of the period. Ryan Martindale was called for tripping with 1:52 left in the period and the Soo went up by 2 in 9 seconds when Aaron Alphonso (get used to hearing it) was again parked in front to pick up the rebound off Chris’ third save and get it past him. Chris MacKinnon and (get used to this one too) Dustin Jeffery (him too) assisted on that one.

Playing right to the end of the period, Radim Ostrcil returned some of the physical attention when he nicely upended James Livingston at the Ottawa blue line. And I mean upended – skates over brainbucket upended. ‘Twas indeed a thing of beauty.

However, it was but a moral victory as the ‘Hounds held the better statistic: up by 2 at the end of 20 minutes and seriously outshooting the 67s 13 to 4. Think I saw Gajewski texting the girlfriend during the period just to pass the time.

Second Period:
Killer changed up the lines a bit; swapping Nesbitt and Lahey and whatever he saw, it worked. Just 16 seconds into the period, Matt Lahey scored his first goal of the season on Ottawa’s 5th shot of the game when he wired it past Gajewski from the slot. Kiriakou and Paryzek assisted. A one-goal game!

But about a minute and a half later, it looked like the Soo had restored its two-goal lead when it appeared that one of the Soo players (didn’t get the number) managed to tuck the puck behind Perugini. A review determined that the puck had not actually completely crossed the line and so it was ruled a NO GOAL!! Bullet dodged – for the moment. Read on faithful fans.

Ottawa was on the powerplay again with about 17 minutes to go and managed to draw the Soo into another penalty to get a 5-on-3 for 30 seconds…but they were unable to convert on either of the two advantages.

With 7:06 gone in the period, Alphonso, Jeffery and MacKinnon teamed up again to score a beautiful goal to really restore the two-goal lead and give Aaron his hat trick.

Then Ottawa got that one back on the powerplay when Lahey once again beat Gajewski right in front. Kiriakou assisted. I got my hat trick hat ready.

The teams then spent a minute or so playing neutral-zone pinball until Jamie McGinn was called for slashing. The boys did another fine job of defending on the kill – allowing only two shots to get through to Chris. At one point the puck was airborne and Ostrcil timed it just right – leveling the Soo player just as he gloved the puck. Sorta like a safety drilling the receiver just as he catches the ball……….well, maybe an exaggeration but you get the picture. It was a good hit. No wonder Boston likes this kid. He keeps this up he just might get signed.

But with all that aside, at the end of the second period, it was 2 for Matt Lahey…er...Ottawa and 3 for Aaron Alphonso....make that the Soo Greyhounds. As evidence that the Soo was bringing it to Ottawa, they continued to lead with the shots – 24 – 11.

Intermission: we were entertained by a tug of war between the Bogglesmiths (?) and the Crazyfrogs (?), two teams of youngsters at centre ice. The Crazyfrogs won but they really needed the help of the on- ice attendants. The Bogglesmiths were a little indignant but remained good sports.

Third Period
With a shortened bench (Chris Cowie stayed in the dressing room for some unknown reason (injury??)) and being outplayed for two periods, Killer juggled the lines quite a bit – I couldn’t keep track.

Ottawa lost the opening face off (again) and struggled to get the play out of their zone. They then generated a great early scoring chance when Kiriakou sent the puck from behind the net to Lahey who was parked right in front but he could not make contact with the puck.

Then it went bad – I think it was Tyler Cuma gave away the puck deep in his own zone. Dustin Jeffrey had it past Chris before he even knew it. The assist…wait for it…Chris MacKinnon.

In a dive worthy of the Olympics, the Soo was able to draw a tripping penalty on Michael Latta. Again, the PK teams did a fine job of holding off another goal and actually generated a pretty good shorthanded scoring opportunity but Logan was unable to connect with the pass from Jamie McGinn.

Then it was Ottawa’s turn on the PK when Radim didn’t quite get it right when he laid out Chris MacKinnon. It looked like MacKinnon was going to play the puck but he didn’t and Radim was tagged with interference. It’s not noted on the official score sheet. It was a short-lived PK for the 67s as Josh Godfrey blasted it on from the blue line and over the left shoulder of Chris to make it 5 – 3 for the Soo. Jacob Muzzin and Dustin Jeffery got the assists.

A mere 18 seconds later, it was Muzzin and Jefferey teaming up again, this time getting the good bounce off the post and in the net.

Give the 67s credit, they still played hard in a losing cause, pressing for that last morale lifting goal. Things were getting testy on the ice and in the stands. On the ice, Michael Fine was getting a call for high sticking but a scrum erupted involving more than just face-washing and pushing. When it was all sorted out, McGinn and Quesnele were sent of for off-setting minors for roughing.

The near-rumble in the stands took place in Sections 21 and 22, when Cuma was still on the ice dealing with having a stick shoved up his nose. One of the many Soo fans in Section 22 yelled at him to get up. A 67s fan in Section 21 took exception and they exchanged opinions on a number of subjects. The 67s fan, not a tiny man but seriously outnumbered by the much younger Soo fans, decided he needed to get up close and personal to deliver his message. He wasn’t overly aggressive, as he would have easily swept the Civic Centre staff aside had he wanted to. Security staff finally arrived and he was escorted out.

Meanwhile, there was some hockey still being played. BTW, no penalty for the stick up the nose although Park (the ref) was close enough to read the lettering on the stick.

The 67s played right up to the buzzer but to no avail.

The final score: 2 – 6 for the Soo with the shots 16 – 34 for the Soo.

Random thoughts:
  • Why is it that we play teams right after they come off some really annoying loss? First it was Kingston twice after having lost badly, now the Soo Greyhounds after losing in a shoot-out to Kingston.
  • There’s a reason that the Greyhounds are ranked the number 1 Major Junior team in Canada – they have taken 15 out of a possible 16 points this season (including tonight). They work hard, play hard, have skill and have some serious experience in net. Gajewski, while not really tested, did have to make a couple of great saves. They well deserved the win. The long trip home will be a very pleasant one I’m sure.
  • There are many good reasons Craig Hartsburg was chosen to coach Team Canada in the World Junior Championships. I’m sure his international experience is benefiting the team.
  • Who the heck was this Alphonso fellow and why didn’t have him on our team? Oh ya – we did!! Until June that is. Nice to see that the change has had a positive impact on him. Hope he stays healthy for a great season.
  • Well, I wore my game worn jersey but it didn’t seem to do the trick. Maybe I should wear the Memorial Cup game worn jersey.
  • Tough outing for Chris Perugini but every goalie will go through these character building experiences.
  • One ref tonight – Park. Backwards it’s Krap. Draw your own conclusions.
  • Apparently Tyler Cuma is being scouted by the Sens (among others). Hope it’s not throwing him off his game. It would be some fun to see him in their system. Brian Lee and Tyler Cuma as a future defensive pairing. We can dream can’t we?
  • The anthem was better. Not in a key that I could sing (I realize that it’s not all about me) but at least it was a decent rendition, if a bit slow. No spontaneous groans of pain.

Three Stars
1. Aaron Alphonso (Soo - 3 goals)
2. Dustin Jeffrey (Soo – 1 goal and 5 assists)
3. Matt Lahey (2 goals)

Team 1200 Hardest working 67s: Thomas Kiriakou

A slow live-hockey weekend coming up: The 67s are on the road for what should be a tough test as they play Kitchener, Sarnia and London in two and a half days. And my Senators are in New York next Saturday for a game against the Rangers who will be looking for a better result than last night (Gerber’s the man!!). I will get one game in; the Sens against the Hurricanes on Thursday.

See y’all in a couple of weeks. Have a happy and stuffed Thanksgiving! Safe trip to all the travelers.

Go 67s Go!!

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