December 29, 2007

Another 1-Goal Game: Ottawa over Belleville 4 - 3

Hope everyone had a great Christmas. Set-up for the game:

This is the 6th game of the season for these two divisional rivals and all of them have been 1-goal games. Coming into tonight’s game, Belleville had the edge in wins with 3 of the previous 5 games.

About Belleville: they come in atop of the Eastern Conference with 45 points, 2 ahead of Brampton, and on a 4-game winning streak. Two of their key players, forward Shawn Matthias who leads the Bulls both in points and in +/-, and defenseman P.K. Subban, are at the WJHC in the Czech Republic (Go Canada Go!!). Rookie Tyler Randell is on the Team Ontario roster for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge that starts in London Ontario on December 29th. 16-year-old Andy Bathgate was called-up and it will be the first time that Ottawa sees the recent additions Nigel Williams, Jan Mursak and Kyle Tront in Belleville uniforms.

Also missing from the Belleville line-up for the game were Robert Stellick and Matthew Tippoff. Mike Murphy got the call to mind the net.

About Ottawa: Ottawa is currently enjoying its longest winning streak of the year with 4 wins. The 67s were also without some key players for the game. Defenseman Martin Paryzek is back home playing for his national team at the WJHC, and rookies Michael Latta and Ryan Martindale are with Team Ontario at the Under-17 Hockey Challenge. First-round pick Marc Zanetti was called up from his Markham team for the game and wore sweater 10.

Also missing in action was Logan Couture who is still feeling the effects of that big hit early in the game against the St. Mike Majors before the Christmas break. Coach Kilrea figures he should be ready to play next Friday. And Matt Lahey’s shoulder continues to bother him enough to keep him out of the line-up. The team is waiting for the results of an MRI to help figure out what’s going on.

Adam Courchaine got the assignment again. And for the record, Chris Perugini apparently did not have a melt-down a-la Emery (OK – a cheap shot at Emery but he deserves it – what a baby!! suck it up and practice your way back to respectability!! sheesh!).

Ottawa Lines:
JMcGinn, Kiriakou, Bailey
Methot, Lindsay, Nesbitt
Zamec, Cowie, Carnevale
TMcGinn swapped with Zamec for the first period but didn’t see any ice after the first regular shift of the second (at least as far as I can remember)

Defensive pairings:

Game Summary
Belleville started with the first scoring chance of the game with a wrist shot from Andrew Self that Adam Courchaine gloved down just a minute and half into the game.

Mike Murphy returned the favour by denying a great 2-on-1 scoring chance by McGinn and Kiriakou.

After that, there really wasn’t much else for either team for quite a while until Jon Carnevale was denied a goal by a very quick whistle after 8 minutes of play.

Then on the other side of the half-way mark, Jason Bailey picked his own rebound and beat Murphy high with the backhand. Jamie McGinn got the assist.

In the final 6 minutes of the period, Ottawa got rather sloppy with a lot of turnovers in their own end and with 2:26 left they earned their first of 4 penalties when Tyler Cuma was sent off for hooking. The Bulls managed two shots on Courchaine before Jamie McGinn was called for roughing. This gave Belleville a 5-on-3 advantage for 55 seconds during which they managed a couple more shots on Courchaine that he stopped. Ottawa survived the 5-on-3 and the rest of the period down a man.

They started the second period still on the PK for 40 seconds but Belleville couldn’t get anything organized.

All scoring in the second period happened in the first six minutes.

From the previous games against Belleville it appears a pattern has emerged where Ottawa takes the lead and Belleville digs deep to tie it up. And today’s game was the same. After Ottawa had very successfully killed yet another penalty (no shots on goal), Ottawa native Shawn Lalonde scored his 4th of the year with a wrist shot from the left point that found room in the top corner glove side. Cory Tanaka and Andrew Self assisted. This was just 2 minutes and change into the period.

Then Ottawa took the lead again when Tyler Cuma sent a wrist shot to the net. Jamie McGinn picked up a rebound and once Murphy committed himself down low, he roofed it. Jason Bailey and Tyler Cuma got the assists.

But that was sooo short-lived. Nine seconds later, right off the face-off, Belleville’s Kyle Turkiewicz redirected a pass from Andrew Self to tie it up (again!!). Cory Tanaka got the other assist. Arghh!

Cory Tanaka welcomes Marc Zanetti to the OHL.

The line of Zamec, Cowie and Carnevale had a couple of particularly great shifts near the end of the period controlling the puck in the Belleville zone and creating scoring chances. Lots of transition, good defensive plays and saves by goalies marked the final quarter of the period.

Courchaine save on Belesky in the final seconds of the period.

The scoring in the third period was more distributed.

Belleville had a great scoring chance right away when Julien Demers was unable to clear the puck and Jan Mursak was able to pick it up and skate in alone for what looked like a certain goal but Courchaine made an incredibly athletic diving save to keep Belleville from gaining the lead.

Finally, Belleville was assessed their first penalty of the game (they are least penalized team in the conference). Mifflen was called for a hook on Cowie.

Ottawa did a good job of keeping the play in the Belleville zone and getting shots on Murphy and the hard work was rewarded when Jamie McGinn picked up a rebound and popped it in on the short side. Tyler Cuma and Julien Demers got the assists. Ottawa was back in the lead at 2:33 into the final frame.

As Ottawa’s play flagged, Belleville’s second best scorer, Matt Beleskey notched his 23rd goal of the season at about half-way through the period when a rebound went right to him all alone in the slot. Before Courchaine could react, the puck was behind him. The assists went to Eric Tangradi, and newcomer Nigel Williams.

With both teams pressing for the go-ahead goal, it was another great shift by the allegedly third-line that found gold. Jon Carnevale put on pretty much a one-man show, carrying the puck in and getting it back and moving it around and finally scoring his 5th goal on the season on a seemingly innocuous back hand that slid under the outstretched arm of Mike Murphy. Scott Cowie and Adam Zamec got the assists with 6:27 left in the game.

The final few minutes of the game were critical as Ottawa tried to hold on to their one-goal lead and Belleville pushed to tie it up once again. Their efforts were made all the more challenging against the pressing Bulls when Radim Ostrcil was called for checking from behind with just under three minutes left in the game. Ottawa did a great job of keeping the Bulls from taking advantage and a crucial element was the face-offs won by Thomas Kiriakou both on both sides of the blue line. Killer put him in for all these face offs and Thomas did the job. Even with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker, the Bulls were unable to get a single shot on Courchaine during the PP.

But they pressed hard in the final moments and avoided a couple of empty net goal chances but Adam made the big save on Eric Tangradi in the dying seconds to seal the win.

Ottawa held on and won the game 4 – 3 with final shots on goal of 39 – 37 for Ottawa.

Three stars
1. Jamie McGinn (2 goals and an assist)

2. Jon Carnevale (called back goal, game winning goal and one of the best players on the ice)

3. Andrew Self (Belleville – 2 assists)

Team 1200 hardest working 67s: Jason Bailey

Random Thoughts:

  • I am continually impressed with the eye-hand coordination of these kids - beyond the normal bouncing the pucks on their sticks. Fairly early in the second period, Adam Courchaine stopped a long shot on net and the puck went pretty much straight up. With a Belleville player bearing down for a juicy rebound, Adam batted the puck out of the air with his stick into the left corner and out of danger’s way. Heads-up and impressive (for me anyway).
  • The 67s have a great batch of rookies this year. They have skills, play hard and are getting results. Jon Carnevale certainly had his best game of the season, including knocking Chris Mifflen to the ice with a good hit in the third period. With the bench still short for the rest of the weekend, he will have more opportunities to showcase his talent and hard work.
  • Good seeing the rest of the team step up strongly in the absence of key players. Killer played with a very short bench – only three lines and it looks like that’s how it will be for the rest of the weekend. They’re going to be pretty pooped once Sunday comes and goes.
  • I much prefer Cowie as a forward rather than a defenseman. He did a really good job centering the third line.
  • Kiriakou also did a very credible job centering the top line. And he won some very critical face offs. It’s too bad we can’t get stats on details like face offs. I find that stuff interesting.
  • We had a live horn section in the arena. It was a great touch. Almost felt like a college football game. Thanks to whoever is responsible for that additional game-day ambience.
  • The 67s have two more games ahead of them; a road game in Peterborough who had Friday night off and then back at home to host the Erie Otters on Sunday afternoon who will be playing their third game in as many days.
  • The WJHC is underway in the Czech Republic and watching the first game against the Czech Republic caused some conflicted feelings. Certainly I was cheering big time for Team Canada but I was also hoping that Martin Paryzek would have a good game. Well, I got both wishes – Team Canada won and Paryzek had a pretty good game.
  • Which brings us to the happy realization that we are only ONE YEAR away from hosting the event here in Ottawa. There was a brief opening ceremony to raise a banner that will stay there until the end of the tournament next year. We reserved our tickets the very moment (and I mean the very moment the package arrived in the mailbox) they became available. Friends and family have already been warned that, if they think I’m a tad hockey focused now, it will be increased by an order of magnitude this time next year.

Go 67s Go!

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