February 18, 2007

Dog Days of a Skid: Mississauga Wins 6 - 3

Tough weekend schedule for the 67s playing all three games against teams that have already clinched playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. It was the Mississauga Ice Dogs who came into today’s game third place in the conference, only 1 point back of Belleville. The Ice Dogs were also riding a 6-game winning streak and a day off yesterday. Ottawa returned to the Civic Centre from losing both ends of a home and home series with the conference second place team Belleville Bulls. Ottawa and Mississauga have already met twice this year with Mississauga taking both: 6-1 and 6-3. Do I sense a pattern here? Hmmmm…..

Mississauga player notes: not dressed (hope I have these correctly) Joshua Day, Dylan MacEachern, Ben O’Connor, Chris DeSousa, Travis Fuller and Stevan Manojilovic. Rookie Andrew Loverock started in net.

Ottawa player notes: Julian Cimadamore and Logan Couture were today’s scratches. Looks like Julian will be out 3 - 4 weeks more with his back injury. Brady Morrison got the call.

Lines for tonight:
McGinn, Kiriakou, Lahey
Liscomb, Methot, Bailey
Cowie, Lindsay, Alphonso
Nesbitt, Ribeiro, cameo appearance of another forward

Again, I thought I saw Methot on the top line a couple of times; don’t know if it was an experiment or line change issues.

Defensive pairings: mostly Joslin - Vojta, Grimaldi – Beard, Cuma – Demers with Sean Ryan thrown in the mix from time to time until Tyler Cuma was injured on a cheap shot by Jadran Beljo.

Mississauga was clearly well rested as they started the game quickly with a sharp angle shot on Brady. Ottawa’s first attempt to get the play into the Ice Dog zone was quickly ended when Nathan Martine nailed Jason Bailey at the Ottawa blue line. Otherwise Jason was away with the puck. The Ice Dogs kept the pressure up early and it took Ottawa almost two minutes to get out of their own zone and put a shot on Loverock. Ottawa finally got a power play opportunity when Matt Corrente was called for checking Jason Bailey from behind. Ottawa only managed one shot on Loverock during the man advantage. About five and a half minutes later it was Mississauga’s turn for the PP when Brody Beard was called for holding. Our PK units did a fine job of keeping the Ice Dogs at bay – allowing only one shot on Morrison which he stopped. Mississauga finally broke the ice when their scoring leader Michael Swift was left alone in the slot to receive and bury a centering pass past Brady. Then he got his second goal of the night and 30th of the year just 35 seconds later to put Mississauga up by two with 5:50 to go in the first period. Derek Joslin got Ottawa within 1 with 1:35 left in the period with a one timer from the point that beat Loverock. Lahey and McGinn got the assists. But 34 seconds later, Mississauga’s rookie Alex Pietrangelo restored the 2-goal basically putting the puck into an empty net.

The first period ended with the score 3 – 1 for Mississauga and SOGs 8 – 18 for them too.

Ottawa got another PP opportunity early in second the period and managed to start getting some shots through to the goalie. Loverock was giving out lots of juicy rebound that Ottawa just couldn’t get to. In the first four minutes of the period, the SOGs were even at 18 but the score was unchanged. Then 6 minutes into the frame, Tyler Cuma passed the puck to Brett Liscomb but it was too high and it created a turnover in the Ottawa zone. Jean-Michel Rizk ended up with it and scored on a backhand over Bready’s shoulder to make it 4 – 1. Ottawa had a great scoring chance later on a breakaway but Aaron Alphonso was denied by a great pad save by Loverock. Mississauga then responded with a great 3-on-1 opportunity that Brady denied. Somehow in the ensuing puck movements it ended up high in the air and Brady made a great leaping snag of a rebound that would make an NBA defender happy. And with all that equipment too!

Ottawa was hitting more and after Alphonso nailed Martine, Martine was looking for some action. Aaron didn’t oblige so as he was skating to his bench Martine thought he would nudge a couple of other Ottawa players to see what he could get. They were too smart to fall for it.

Jamie McGinn has been working extra hard without his line mate Couture and it paid off in many small ways. One of them was to draw a holding penalty by Brett Oliphant. But Ottawa couldn’t convert either of the two shots they got with the advantage. And so it went – Ottawa had 5 PPs in the period and could not score on any of them.

Mississauga led 4 – 1 at the end of the second period with SOG 29 – 27 for Ottawa.

Gotta give the 67s credit for starting the third period like they planned to win this game. Just 1:44 into the period, Derek Joslin fired one in and this time Matt Lahey was there for the rebound. Less than 2 minutes later, on the power play Derek Joslin kept the puck in the offensive zone and got it to the net where Jamie McGinn picked up the rebound to get Ottawa to within 1!! Brady kept the momentum going with a great sliding save on a Mississauaga scoring chance. As play was moving up the ice, I didn’t see the actual hit but apparently Jadran Beljo laid a cheap, dirty hit from behind on Tyler Cuma. Tyler was hurt badly and it took a while for the trainer to let him up. It looked like they were concerned with his knee. He left the ice on his skates but I didn’t see him put any weight on it. Beljo earned a 5-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for his actions. Michael Swift also earned time in the sin bin for roughing. So Ottawa had the momentum and a 2-man advantage for a very long time. Well, for the second time this year, the 67s managed to allow three guys to out-skate and out-skill five and score the worst type of short-handed goals (actually the only good short-handed goal is the one your team scores). Jordan Owens scored his 29th goal of the year on the nifty work / bad play. To say it was disappointing would be an understatement. Four minutes later, Michael Swift got the hat trick and pretty much iced the game for the Ice Dogs. But I have to give the 67s credit – down by three with less than 10 minutes to play, they still tried to make stuff happen. Nesbitt rung one off the post that would have been nice to have. To the Ice Dogs credit, they didn’t get all defensivy. They kept pushing for that 7th goal. But the die was cast – this one was over.

Mississauga won their 7th in a row with a score of 6 – 3. Shots 47 – 37 for Ottawa.

Stars for the game:

1. Michael Swift (Mississauga 3 goals and an assist)
2. Alex Pietrangelo (Mississauga goals and an assist)
3. Derek Joslin (goal and 2 assists)

Hardest working 67: Jamie McGinn

Random Thoughts:

  • There was some good effort there this afternoon but the Ice Dogs were able to capitalize on Ottawa mistakes. Third game in three days including a road game last night. The legs coulda been tired. And they are missing Logan.
  • Morrison played really well – there were some stellar saves. Good job!!
  • Loverock let out a ton of big rebounds. Ottawa has to anticipate these better next week.
  • Mississauga didn’t seem to like it when Ottawa was laying on the body. I would think more of that would be appropriate.
  • Jason Bailey got away with a few late hits and attempts at hits – gotta watch it buddy.
  • Speaking of cheap shots, I hope the league reviews Jadran Beljo's hit on Cuma. Their assessment should include his behaviour as he was escorted off the ice.
  • I’ve never played hockey but I’ve played team sports. To me it seems that when a team is tight, they have a really good sense of each other. The video before the game – “We’re a team” – if they really were tight as a team I doubt the video would be necessary.
  • Five game losing streak. Not good. But three reasons why I would rather be a 67s fan than a Habs fan right now: 1. 3 of the last 5 losses have been against teams way ahead of Ottawa in the standings, 2. Ottawa is not playing cheap hockey out of desperation, and 3. the ticket prices are much more reasonable.

Soap Box Moment:
Refereeing – a thankless job at the best of times but some of these guys must be downright certifiable to keep doing it with the abuse they earn. After a few years as a season ticket holder, I can say I only know the names of two refs. And they were both officiating today’s game. Talk about a curse. Parc shows up about 5 minutes into first period. No one missed him. The ref standing outside the blue line calls the penalty on the play behind the net that the guy right on top of it didn’t see or realize he should call. Liscomb gets a high stick in the face that draws blood with a zebra right there and no one can find his whistle.

Fans are ticked off about the state of officiating! There’s a thread on the NOOF about OHL officiating (http://www.rinkratmag.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21289) and there’s a movement originating in Ottawa for a fan protest about NHL officiating (http://blacksaturday.ca/goal.php). I don’t expect perfection. I realize that mistakes will be made. I realize that this is junior hockey and we are getting junior officials.

But junior hockey is now pretty big business. Franchises are going for millions of dollars. In Canada, hockey is more than a passing fancy. We need an officiating system that is more professional than it appears to be now and we need transparency on how the system works. The OHL needs to show leadership by posting the following online: the rule book (if the darn thing is online I certainly have not been able to find it), the guidelines for game officiating (especially guidlines to deal with this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcFtcoo0ic4), a description of the standards for selection of officials (just what does it take to become and remain an OHL official), and how official performance is assessed and managed. I’m not interested in individual performance assessment (I sure wouldn’t want mine posted anywhere) but I want the performance assessment and management system described. Then we can judge whether it appears that it is being applied. Right now there is just a lot of noise about what individuals think may or may nor be happening. In the absence of facts, people will make it up. It’s hard to understand how some of these people keep getting assigned. They must have pictures.

Rant over.

Ottawa has a tough road trip ahead of them next weekend. Another game against Mississauga in Mississauga, then to Erie and then to Brampton. This could be the weekend that defines whether they make it to the playoffs.

Dig deep guys – be the team you say you are in the video. Play tough!

Go 67s Go!!

February 17, 2007

Good Game In A Losing Cause: Bulls 4 – 2

Belleville came into Ottawa leading the Division and hoping to end a 3-game losing skid. They were shut out twice last weekend ( 7 – 0 by Saginaw and 3 – 0 by Oshawa) and lost in a shoot out with Toronto on Wednesday. They had 69 points before today’s game (18 points ahead of Ottawa) and had the lowest goals-against in the division (186). Belleville had also won 4 of the 5 previous games against Ottawa.

Belleville player notes: scratches Marc Cantin, Aaron Snow, Edward Pasquale. Kevin Lalande started in net.

Ottawa player notes: Julian Cimadamore and Logan Couture were today’s scratches. Brady Morrison got the call.

Lines for tonight:
McGinn, Kiriakou, Lahey
Liscomb, Methot, Bailey
Cowie, Lindsay, Alphonso
Nesbitt, Ribeiro, cameo appearance of another forward

In the 3rd period I’m not sure there was a line change per se or just some confusion in the line changes but it briefly looked like the centers on the top two lines swapped.

Defensive pairings: mostly Joslin - Vojta, Grimaldi – Beard, Cuma – Demers with Sean Ryan thrown in the mix from time to time.

The 67s started the game with a lot of energy right off the face off, put pressure on Belleville, Kiriakou had a great scoring chance, play moved up and down a few times, Grimaldi laid a good hit on Cory Tanaka, more up and down the ice. All this and more until the first whistle of the period at 7:54 into the game when the first penalty was also called. This one went against Tyler Cuma for hooking. So the PK units of Kiriakou, Cowie, Vojta, Joslin and Bailey, McGinn, Demers, Grimaldi limited Belleville to 1 shot in the two minute advantage. At the 12:20 mark of the game, Belleville’s Eric Tangradi made a neat move to get by Julien Demers for an excellent scoring chance – NOT! Brady made the big save to keep the game tied at zero. Ottawa finally broke the deadlock at 15:25 while on the 2-man advantage for 49 seconds. Cuma and Grimaldi switched points and in a neat passing play Bailey, Grimaldi to Cuma, Tyler one-timed it over the shoulder of Kevin Lalande for his third goal of the year. Ottawa had a couple more chances on the back end of that 5-on-3 advantage but they couldn’t get the goal.

After 20 it was Ottawa 1 – Belleville 0 with shots on goal 9 – 8 for Ottawa

Three minutes into the second period, Scott Cowie received a nice feed in the slot from Alphonso from behind the net and had it past Lalande for his 7th of the year. Five minutes later, after some scrambling around in the Ottawa end, a centering pass by Belleville went right through the crease along the line (from what we could see). The ref whistled the play and signaled a (potential?) goal and went to have it reviewed. The review confirmed what we all knew – no goal. But it did manage to break up a play that Belleville was building in the Ottawa zone. Up until the 7 minute mark of the game, Joe Grimaldi was having a really good game. Then he tried to do too much bringing the puck out of the Ottawa zone and the forechecking Bulls relieved him of the puck. So his defensive response was to hook the Belleville player which sent him off for two minutes. Our usual PK units actually killed the penalty but at 10:01 Matt Pelech was credited with the first Belleville goal. The puck was redirected; Brady didn’t stand a chance. And Grimaldi was exiled to Coventry for a while (see http://www.answers.com/topic/coventry-state-of-ostracism-or-exile). Then Ottawa got into more penalty trouble when Cody Lindsay was called for interference and Julien Demers was called for high sticking. Belleville had the two-made advantage for 1:09. The boys were doing a really good job of keeping Belleville to the outside and forcing fast passes that were difficult to settle down but Bryan Cameron was credited with the tying goal that deflected and bounced and went over Brady. Not much he could have done on that one. Grimaldi was back on the ice to help close down the second half of the powerplay.

So the second period ended tied at 2 with shots on goal 16 – 15 for Ottawa.

The third period started 4-on-4 as both teams had players serving penalties. Tyler Cuma was nabbed for holding and Belleville was serving a bench minor for strenuously disagreeing with an admittedly very close off-side call. I personally think it was an even-up call as the previous call against Tyler was questionable.

Brady made his first of a number of great glove saves 30 seconds into the period. Nearing the halfway mark, Vojta was called for hooking and it took Belleville just 7 seconds to go ahead. Brady caught the initial shot but didn’t smother it. He wasn’t sure where it went and Belleville’s Shawn Matthias buried the rebound. The momentum had definitely turned in Belleville’s favour. They tightened up defensively with the lead and Ottawa just could not clear the puck or get much going. For his part, Brady was making some stellar saves. Any chances Ottawa got in the Belleville zone were quickly doused by Belleville. With Brady already out of the net for the extra attacker, Belleville drew a penalty with 32 seconds left. Ottawa took a timeout to plan the attack. Bailey took and won the face off and Ottawa tried desperately for the tying goal but Matt Pelech finally got his stick on the puck and from the faceoff circle in his own zone, he cleared the puck into the empty net to seal the game. How to impress your hopefully future boss!

Belleville downs Ottawa 4 – 2 with final shots on goal 26 – 31 for Belleville

Stars for the game:

1. Matt Pelech (Belleville 2 goals and an assist)
2. Tyler Cuma (powerplay goal to start tonight’s scoring)
3. Bryan Cameron (Belleville – the powerplay goal to tie up the game)

Hardest working 67: Jason Bailey

Random Thoughts:

  • GM Alert! GM Alert! NHL General Manager in the house tonight! Rumour was that Darryl Sutter, GM of the Calgary Flames was in the arena tonight to take a look at his 2005 first round draft pick Matt Pelech. So, Matt did what all aspiring NHL’ers do – he had a very good game. Actually, I think pretty much everyone stepped it up a bit. There's a draft coming up doncha know! The Flames aren’t on the road this weekend so Darryl might also be doing some other pre-trade deadline looking about (Atlanta is in town tomorrow. Perhaps another western team looking to make a booster trade for the playoffs?).
  • “Give me your tired, your poor, your slumping teams yearning to get off the schnied” (with sincere apologies to Emma Lazarus). Perhaps that’s unfair but it does seem lately that teams needing a win to turn things around need only to play the 67s.
  • It was a loss but not all that disappointing (notwithstanding the above comment). The team played pretty well and we were very entertained but Belleville isn’t in first place because they are lucky. As they stepped up their game it showed that they were just that bit better.
  • The best line for the last few games I’ve seen has been the Liscomb, Methot, Bailey line. They work really hard and create a lot of chances.
  • Looked like Alphonso was favouring his left arm or hand. Hope it’s not serious.
  • Heard that Tyler Cuma will be heading up to Whitehorse next week as part of Ontario’s team for the Canada Winter Games. Gonna miss him. He made some spectacular second-efforts tonight – as usual. It’s really beautiful country – if just a tad far from everything else. Enjoy it Tyler and make the trip to Lake Laberge to see the location of the cremation of Sam McGee. Pure northern Canadiana. http://www.wordinfo.info/words/index/info/view_unit/2640/?letter=C&spage=26

Both teams are at it again in Belleville tomorrow evening and then Ottawa returns for a Sunday afternoon date with the Mississauga Ice Dogs who will be well rested after going into Brampton and bombing them 5 – 0 tonight.

Have a good weekend everyone - hope to see you Sunday.

Go 67s Go!

February 11, 2007

Stung by Sarnia: 5 - 2

The Sarnia Sting came into to town having lost the previous two games on this road trip: a 3 – 4 loss in Peterborough on Thursday and a heartbreaking 5 – 6 loss in the shootout in Kingston on Friday. The last time these two teams met, in Sarnia on January 27th, Ottawa beat the Sting 4 – 1.

Sarnia player notes: scratches Christian Steingraber, Steve Reese, Jared Gomes, Danner Anger, Chris Mifflen. Parker VanBuskirk started in goal.

Ottawa player notes: Julian Cimadamore and Matt Ribeiro were today’s scratches.

Lines for tonight: well, between the penalties and the injuries, there was only one steady line for the afternoon. And that was: Liscomb, Methot, Bailey. Cowie, Kiriakou, and Lahey spent some time together as did Alphonso, Couture and McGinn. Nesbitt and Lindsay were lined up with various team mates.

Defensive pairings: mostly Joslin - Vojta, Grimaldi – Beard, Cuma – Demers with Sean Ryan thrown in the mix from time to time.

The 67s didn’t quite have the jump or the timing and they paid the price right away. Jason Bailey was called for boarding right from the get-go. The PK units of Cowie, Kiriakou, Joslin, Vojta and McGinn, Couture, Cuma, Grimaldi with Flueler as the final defenseman (with 3 saves) just about had the penalty beaten but with 21 seconds left rookie Steven Stamkos picked up a rebound and beat Flueler for his 36th goal of the season. Not a great way to start the game – down one in just over 2 minutes. Then Sarnia’s Matt Martin nailed Derek Joslin from behind and into the boards and was called for checking from behind. Ottawa managed only 2 shots on goal for the two minutes and both were stopped. Jason Bailey got nabbed again for hooking and Sarnia didn’t need as much time to take advantage. Stamkos got his second for the game by parking beside the post and getting the easy tip-in by Flueler to put the Sting up by two. Lukas didn’t stand a chance on either of those two goals – the defense hung him out. Sarnia was playing very aggressively on the fore check. Finally, during Ottawa’s third power play Jakub Vojta beat VanBuskirk in the top corner with a beauty from the point to pull Ottawa back into the game. Brett Liscomb got the assist.

The first period ended 1 – 2 for Sarnia with shots 15 – 13 for Ottawa.

Looked like the second period was going to start pretty much like the first when Brett Liscomb was called for hooking within the first 26 seconds. But he managed to provoke Sarnia’s hookee, Craig Voakes into taking some retaliatory action for the even-up penalty so it was 4-on-4 for two minutes. Thomas Kiriakou was called for hooking before the off-setting minors were done so Ottawa did have some penalty to kill which they did this time. Before the 5 minute mark of the period, Couture hit the boards hard in the Sarnia zone and had difficulty getting back into the play. He made it to the bench on his own steam but that was it for the day.

As the game just got by the halfway mark, Aaron Alphonso made a terrific play and was streaking to the net with the puck when he was interfered with. He went crashing into the net and then into the boards and was down for a long time. He finally made it up but went directly to the dressing room. That put two guys from our top line off the bench. Aaron was assessed a penalty shot but with the injury, Ottawa was able to choose a substitute and Jamie McGinn was the man for the job. Jamie skated in and neatly beat VanBuskirk on the blocker side to even up the game!! Ottawa then had some wind in their sails and was putting the pressure on. But they did it again – this time it was Mathieu Methot getting the call for holding. It took less than 15 seconds for Sarnia to take advantage. Chicago draft pick Trevor Kell restored the Sarnia lead with his 31st goal of the year. It looked like Flueler was screened on the shot. It wasn’t long after that Derek Joslin went to the dressing room. I didn’t see what happened but he had been taking a bit of punishment – was he hurt or was it equipment – not sure. Jamie McGinn had a great chance with less than three minutes left but he rung it off the post.

After 40 it was 2 – 3 for Sarnia with Sarnia outshooting Ottawa 27 – 22. Sarnia had also scored all three goals on 7 power plays.

Ottawa tried to make a game of it and had some great scoring chances but they just could not bury the puck. Sarnia on the other hand managed to take advantage of their chances. At 13:49 Mathieu Methot earned his 3rd timeout for the afternoon for a check to the head. Craig Voakes made Ottawa pay with his 38th goal of the season and put Sarnia up by a safe margin of 2. But to their credit, Ottawa didn’t give up. With Steve Stamkos off for slashing, Ottawa managed to get a face off in the Sarnia defensive zone and Flueler was pulled for the extra attacker. Despite some good chances, they just couldn’t finish. With the penalty over, Stamkos was sprung and got his hat trick with an empty netter with 29 seconds left. And that’s all she wrote!

Ottawa lost 5 – 2 to Sarnia even though they outshot Sarnia 39 – 36 with 17 of those shots happening in the third.

Stars for the game:

1. Steve Stamkos (Sarnia rookie with a hat trick and an assist)
2. Parker VanBuskirk (Sarnia goalie with 37 saves)
3. Jamie McGinn (1 goal)

Hardest working 67: Jakub Vojta.

Random Thoughts:

  • Both Joslin and Alphonso made it back to the ice for the third period – whew!
  • The refereeing was brutal. I won’t suggest that I know the rule book really well, and I have never ref’d a hockey game but even I could see how inconsistent this guy was.
  • Lots of banging on the boards – may have to check to ensure that they are still stable.
  • Let’s talk about penalties for a moment. Ottawa remains the lowest penalized team in the league (despite having the fourth most penalized player in the league – who has kept his nose very clean the last couple of games). Our PK is 13th in the league. Maybe we’re not so good at it because we don’t get so much real practice. I tested this theory by a quick examination of the stats. Plymouth is the most penalized team, they are in second place in their conference and have the best rated PK. London is the third most penalized team, is in second place in their conference and has the 8th best PK in the league. But then the theory breaks down. No point in pushing the envelope if we can’t handle the consequences.
  • Now about the PP: still stinks. Only 4 other teams have had more PP opportunities than Ottawa and three of those teams have scored more goals – anywhere from 19 to 39 more goals. No wonder other teams don’t worry about taking liberties with the 67s. It can’t hurt most of the time.
  • Despite all of the above, Ottawa really tried hard at times today but their timing was off and they didn’t get the bounces when they needed them. Sarnia’s goalie played well too although it didn’t look like Ottawa made him work all that hard. I think Flueler had the harder job today.

Well my Ottawa teams went 3 for 4 on the weekend (back-to-back wins for the Sens over Montreal – woo hoo!!). Fortunately for the 67s, their closest conference rivals didn’t gain ground on them either.

Have a good week everyone and see you at the game on Friday. Let’s hope for an Ottawa road win against Kingston on Tuesday.

February 10, 2007

4 Straight Goals to a 5 – 4 Win Over Barrie!

The Barrie Colts are the first and only team in the Eastern Conference to have clinched the playoffs coming into tonight’s game with 75 points in 52 games. They were riding a two-game winning streak with a 4 -1 win over the Peterborough Petes last weekend and a revenge win over Sudbury last night 8 – 2 (after Sudbury shutting them out on February 2). Maybe they didn’t have as much left in the tank after that one.

This was the third of four scheduled meetings between these two teams this year; Barrie took the first game in October 3 – 1 and Ottawa did a pretty good job in January beating Barrie 6 – 2.

Barrie Colts player notes: scratches Brian Lashoff, Alex Hutchings, Matthew Bragg, Ryan Gottschalk, Cory Gilles and Thomas Battani. Andrew Perugini started in goal. The Colts have 4 NHL prospects on their team: Euro and rookie Tomas Marcinko (NYI 4th round pick in 2006), Bryan Little (ATL 2006 first round pick), Richard Clune (DAL 2005 3rd round pick), and Mike Weber (BUF 2006 second round pick). Former 67s Joe Pleckaitis was dressed for the game (wearing number 93). There must be some sort of preference with players with very long names. There are more than a few who haven’t grown the shoulders to carry all the letters (unless the font is much smaller).

Ottawa player notes: scratches Julian Cimadamore and Sean Ryan. Brady Morrison got the start tonight. Just to remind Ottawa fans, our NHL prospects are: Jakub Vojta (CAR 2005 4th round pick), Derek Joslin (SJS 5th round pick in 2005 and signed last December), and Jamie McGinn (SJS 2nd round pick in 2006).

Lines for tonight:
McGinn, Couture, Lahey/Alphonso after the first
Liscomb, Methot, Bailey
Cowie, Kiriakou, Alphonso/Lahey after the first
Ribeiro, Kiriakou, Nesbitt

Defensive pairings: kinda lost track but I think it was mostly Joslin-Vojta, Grimaldi – Beard, Cuma – Demers but don’t quote me on it.

Well the first period was certainly interesting. Before we were a minute into the game, Barrie Colt Michael Lombardi was called for checking perennial not-so-big-but-in-your-face-anyway-guy Brett Liscomb from behind. Ottawa managed to get 3 shots on goal and a denied goal just at the end of the penalty. I forgot my radio (sigh!) so I didn’t get the benefit of the guys upstairs but here’s how it looked from our perspective: scramble in front of the net, puck pops up, Liscomb grabs it and throws it to the ice, can’t see what happens next but an Ottawa player pokes it past the Barrie goalie. The ref waved it off and did not go for a review. We think the call is that he put the puck in the net with his hand but at the very worst, it might have been considered a glove pass. It would have been nice to see the review to see if Brett had actually touched it with his stick before the other player potted it. Anyway, pretty good pressure early in the game with the threat of a very early goal. Not a bad start to the evening.

How quickly the tide turns. At 4:49 of the period, Barrie’s Richard Clune got the Colts on the board. As I said, I didn’t have my radio and from where we sit, it is hard to see the play in detail at the far end of the rink so I can’t tell how it actually went down. Then, 19 seconds later, Barrie was up by two with a nice play between Bryan Little and Hunter Tremblay. That was definitely a breakdown in the defensive play that left Tremblay all alone in front of Brady. Egad – we thought the rout was on. But we were wrong!! Six seconds (6 seconds!!) into Barrie’s Chris Purves hooking penalty, recently returned from injury and former Barrie Colt Mathieu Methot tipped in a somewhat rare shot on goal by Jakub Vojta. Brett Liscomb got the second assist. That brought Ottawa to within 1. Then Barrie’s Bryan Little restored the 2-goal lead at 8:41. Then Ottawa got back within 1 at 9:32 when Cody Lindsay picked up a rebound and snapped it past Pereguini. So just to recap here folks, before the first period was half-over, the score was 3 – 2 for Barrie with shots on goal 5 – 7 for Barrie. That’s 5 goals on 12 SOGs between the two teams. Either there were some incredible snipers in town, or all thoughts of defense were lost, or both goalies were asleep at the wheel. We’re thinking double digits by the end of the night. On the very next shot on goal Ottawa tied up the game with a pin-ball play between Couture and McGinn with Jamie notching his 35th of the year. That made it 6 goals on 13 shots. In just over 10 minutes of play. Can anyone say Timbits league?

Ottawa had a chance to gain the lead during a power play when Logan Couture rang one off the post. Then Ottawa was on the PK when Bailey took a cross-checking penalty. But Chris Cowie drew the even-up penalty when he poke-checked the puck across the blue line and Barrie’s Nick Plastino felt the need to hook him rather than let him sprint off with the puck. A great example from among many of the terrific second efforts of the 67s.

The first period ended tied 3 – 3 (for the good guys) with shots 9 – 11 for Barrie. Would we see either of the two goalies back in the second?? There were 8 penalties called in the first: 5 against Barrie and 3 against Ottawa. Keep track of that stat.

The second period started fast enough with Ottawa scoring its 4th goal and gaining the lead just 1:57 into the frame. Mathieu Methot scored his second of night against his former team (15th for the season). Line mates Jason Bailey and Brett Liscomb got the assists. As we neared the halfway mark of the game, Aaron Alphonso roofed it on a power play to put Ottawa up by two. Logan Couture and Joe Grimaldi got the assists. And that’s all she wrote for Barrie goalie Andrew Perugini as he got the hook for Michael Hutchinson. At this point I think he had let in 5 goals on perhaps 13 shots. Not good.

Ottawa continued to play pretty well and had another goal denied as the ref called the play on a penalty against Ottawa. Matt Lahey was called for interference. With 21 seconds left in that penalty Derek Joslin was tagged for interference. That gave Barrie a 5-on-3 advantage pretty much until the end of the period. Ottawa was doing a decent job of fending off the Colts but, unseen to us and the goal judge, the referee called a goal during a wild scramble in the crease.

The period ended with Ottawa up by 1 (5 – 4) and shots on goal 20 – 23 for Barrie. 7 penalties called: 4 against Barrie and 3 against Ottawa.

Second intermission: the Ottawa Centre Initiation League. About 2-dozen kids (I would guess around 7 years old or so), 2 pucks, and goalies without goalie equipment. It can only be full contact as these kids don’t have the coordination yet to avoid running into each other. Always fun to watch. I’m sure it the biggest crowd many of them will ever play to in their hockey careers. Go kids Go! There’s a Sid among you somewhere.

Back to the game, third period. Ottawa started with captain Derek Joslin serving the remaining 1:34 in his interference penalty from the end of the second period. It was ably killed by the two main PK units, Couture, McGinn, Grimaldi, Cuma, and Kiriakou, Cowie, Demers and Vojta.

Lots of skating going on but not too many scoring chances. Lots of hits and thumping against the boards. By half way through the period both teams had managed only 6 shots on goal each. Then Ottawa started holding their sticks a tad too tightly. With 6:27 left Arron Alphonso was called for holding. Barrie moved the puck very quickly but Ottawa kept choking off the real scoring chances. Again, the two PK units were Couture, McGinn, Joslin, Vojta and Kiriakou, Cowie, Grimaldi and Cuma. Then Ottawa got a break with 3:29 left when Chris Purves was called for hooking. Shoulda been a no-brainer right. NOT. The boys tightened up like a drum and Barrie put on the pressure like they had the power play. Ottawa barely got out of their defensive zone for the full 2 minutes. You could really hear the crowd voicing their frustration. Then Barrie pulled the goalie for the extra attacker and continued to put pressure on Ottawa. Alas, they ran out of time (and Ottawa missed an open net to give us all some free nachos!!!).

Ottawa won 5 – 4 against the top team in the conference. Shots were 28 – 32 for Barrie. 2 penalties called in the period – 1 each. Players suddenly smarter? Hmmmmm.

Stars for the game:

1. Mathieu Methot (2 goals)
2. Bryan Little (Barrie goal and an assist)
3. Logan Couture (2 assists)

Hardest working 67: Joe Grimaldi.

Random Thoughts:

  • Can we bottle tonight’s performance? What a ton of great effort from all the guys. Playing consistently like this would make them downright dangerous.
  • Killer played all four lines all game and three of the lines scored. That’s called depth isn’t it? Cool. It’s been a while.
  • Matt Lahey was demoted in-game for the second time that I have noticed.
  • Joe Grimaldi has really picked up his game – this might be his second game without penalties, he got an assist and he played well positionally. Despite the odd brain cramp, I have always liked his play. Really glad to see him improve.
  • Brett Liscomb is still one of my favorites to watch. He’s everywhere. Really going to miss him next year (yeah I know – already worrying about the end of the season).
  • Nice to Bailey and Methot using their size.
  • I thought the game was very entertaining (but I doubt the Barrie fans around us drew the same conclusion).
  • Did I mention the total team effort? Good to see.

So, think we can sting the Sting on Sunday? Let’s see what version of the 67s show up. Until then, have a good weekend folks. Ciao.

February 04, 2007

Much Better Game And A Win Too

Third game of the weekend for both teams but Ottawa had the advantage of staying pretty much at home (their away game was played at the Scotia Bank Place just down the 417).

Owen Sound came into the Civic Centre having already lost their first two games of the road trip: 6 – 3 in Kingston on Friday and again 8 – 5 in Belleville where they also racked up a whopping 30 minutes in penalties. Ottawa didn’t have much to brag about having barely eked out an overtime win against Toronto on Friday and having been smoked by the same team yesterday 8 – 4. Brian Kilrea was so worked up he left the bench after the first period as he was afraid if he stayed someone might have gotten hurt.

Owen Sound player notes: scratches Frankie Santini, Guy Cartociano, Zak Ray and Josh Cato. Former 67s Anthony Guadagnolo started between the pipes.

Ottawa player notes: scratches Julian Cimadamore, Sean Ryan and Mathieu Methot. Lukas Flueler started in goal.

Lines for tonight:
McGinn, Couture, Lahey/Bailey in the third
Liscomb, Cowie, Bailey and then Liscomb, Lindsay, Alphonso in the third
Cowie, Kiriakou, Alphonso/Lahey in the third
Ribeiro, Kiriakou, Nesbitt

Defensive pairings: Joslin-Vojta, Grimaldi – Beard, Cuma - Demers

Ottawa started with a 3-on-2 rush before the first minute was up but Guads made the save. It was a pretty easy one as Lahey (I think) pretty much hit him straight on. It wasn’t long after that Ottawa took its first penalty when Brett Liscomb missed a check and stuck out his foot to trip the Owen Sound player. The PK units (Cowie, Kiriakou, Vojta, Joslin and Couture, McGinn, Grimaldi, Cuma) didn’t allow the Attack so much as a single shot on goal. In fact Owen Sound didn’t get their first SOG until 9:50 into the game. Ottawa got its first PP when Brett Liscomb was held by Anthony Soboczynski (I grew up in Edmonton and know how to pronounce that name – can you??). Then 29 seconds later, Elgin Reid was called for cross-checking Jamie McGinn in Owen Sound’s corner. That gave Ottawa a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:31. Owen Sound won two of the three draws during that period and managed to clear the puck down ice and kill a lot of time. Ottawa was not able to capitalize on the PP but they did manage to get 4 shots on net. Then Logan Couture was assessed Ottawa’s second penalty of the game for tripping and Jason Bailey replaced Logan on the PK unit. Bailey’s fast and aggressive and it paid off when he chased the puck as it was cleared by Ottawa and he managed to keep it in the Attack zone to get the face off there with 19 seconds left in the penalty. With only 1:46 left in the period, Brett Liscomb took his second penalty of the afternoon, this time for slashing. Owen Sound managed to get 4 shots on Flueler before the period ended but our big guys kept them all out.

The period ended scoreless with shots 12 – 11 for Ottawa.

Brett Liscomb had to cool his jets for the first 14 seconds of the second period. Ottawa won the face off and easily waited out the clock. It wasn’t long until Flueler was tested again, this time by a fairly pointblank shot by Howie Martin. Lukas got his shoulder in the way to keep the Attack off the board. Owen Sound really kept up the pressure in the second period. But Ottawa was playing strongly in their zone. Cody Lindsay got hurt blocking a shot but was soon back on the ice. Ottawa couldn’t seem to get it together offensively in the early going but their hard work finally paid off when Jamie McGinn picked up a rebound and scored his 34th goal of the year. Couture and Beard got the assists. Elgin Reid earned his second time out for roughing. Not entirely sure what happened in front of Lukas but Grimaldi ended up in the net and Elgin in the hoosegow. Harrumph – not even a shot on Guads to show for the man advantage! With just over two minute left in the period, Thomas Kiriakou put Ottawa up by two when he picked up a turnover in front of Guadagnolo and beat him upstairs. He was unassisted on his 8th goal of the season. Owen Sound got its fourth penalty of the game when Michael Farrell was sent off for high sticking. Owen Sound’s Scott Tregunna notched a short handed goal on a play that started with Lukas Flueler coming out of net to pass the puck up the nice but it was intercepted and in the ensuing mess Cody Lindsay turned it over to Tregunna with 40 seconds left in the period.

After two it was Ottawa up by 1 (2-1) and shots were 22 – 28 for the Attack.

Just for a change, Ottawa started a period with a man advantage albeit for only 10 seconds. Just over seven minutes into the period, bad boy Brett was called for his THIRD penalty of the game for hooking. Owen Sound was putting pretty good pressure on Ottawa and, perhaps in desperation, Vojta knocked the net off its moorings and was assessed a delay of game penalty. There was some discussion on whether a goal had been scored before that happened but nothing came of it (goal-wise that is). So the Attack had a 2-man advantage 1:22. Given that they had given up something like 4 power play goals yesterday and none so far today, they certainly were flirting with fate up until now. The PK units were Kiriakou, Grimaldi and Joslin with Couture relieving Kiriakou at some point. What a great job they did of killing the 2-man advantage. Kiriakou was aggressive in Owen Sound’s zone, Grimaldi and Joslin did a great job of getting the puck and clearing it well out of the zone. I don’t think Flueler even had to make a save at all during the penalties. It was really great to see. As the period wound down, Flueler had to make a few more really great saves to protect the lead. Then with 2:13 left in the period, Julien Demers caught Howie Martin with a huge clean hit inside the Ottawa blue line. But Owen Sound rookie Wayne Simmonds thought it otherwise and tried to start something. All he managed to start was some time in the penalty box for roughing. Owen Sound eventually got the play into the Ottawa zone and Guads was pulled for the last minute or so. But they were unable to tie it up when the buzzer sounded at the end of the game.

The game ended 2 – 1 for Ottawa (all goals in the second period) with Owen Sound outshooting Ottawa 43 – 31.

Stars for the game:

1. Lukas Flueler (42 saves)
2. Thomas Kiriakou (game winning goal and great penalty killing)
3. Logan Couture (goal and an assist)

Hardest working 67: Julien Demers. Have to agree with Schriebs, this kid plays with poise and calmness far beyond his young age. And just wait until he gets good!

Random Thoughts:

  • Ottawa looked pretty lackluster during the warm-up. I have no idea if you can judge the potential of a game from the warm-up but I watch anyway and pretend there is something prescient about them. As the warm-up was winding down, Elgin Reid passed a puck to Brodie Beard who was just coming up to the centre line and he passed it back. Awwww – how cute!
  • Speaking of Elgin Reid, season ticket holders – take a look at today’s ticket and notice whose mug is on it. Things that make you go hmmmmmm.
  • First time we noticed a goalie stand on the blue line for the anthem – Lukas Flueler.
  • Today’s bad boy was Brett Liscomb who took 3 of the 5 Ottawa penalties. He is second on the team with PIMs. Joe Grimaldi played in clean today (or at the very least got away with anything that he might have done wrong – there was only one ref today and he missed a lot for both teams).
  • It was a fun game to watch. Up and down the ice, some really good saves by both goalies (and the goal posts to help out Guads in the first period). Some good hits. Some really good second efforts. Best of all – we won!!
  • Kiriakou and Vojta played really well. So did Joe. So did just about everyone. A good all around effort this time.

Have a good week everyone – see you at the game on Friday. Let's hope that we see this version of the team (with the added benefit of an effective power play let's hope).

February 03, 2007

2000 Junior Hockey Games! Now that’s a Road Warrior!!

Today was Brian Kilrea's 2000th game behind the bench of the Ottawa 67s. In 30 years. In the OHL. Where from Ottawa it’s 785 km to Sault Ste Marie, 547 km to Saginaw, 540km to Erie and 481km to Sudbury (at least according to Google Maps). That’s a whole lotta time on the buses and staying in strange towns. With someone else’s teenage boys. Intestinally active, hormonally crazy, self-important teenage boys. Ya really gotta love your job to keep doing it that long. God bless you Brian!

Tonight there was a special recognition befitting this impressive milestone. It started with a really nice video with Scotty Bowman, Ron McLean, Don Cherry and others sending their good wishes. The players from both teams lined up at their respective blue lines to watch it. Killer came to centre ice to a long and loud standing ovation. He was joined by Don Cherry (suitably attired in something that wasn’t neon or otherwise attracting an excessive amount of attention), Ron McLean, David Branch and Ottawa Mayer Larry O’Brien. Then a number of players from Killer’s 1974 team came on ice. The two captains took this momentous ceremonial face off and there was much handshaking all around. It was done tastefully, quickly and the game was underway ahead of schedule. Well done Ottawa 67s! I hope they post it on their website.

Toronto player notes: Matt Russo, Byron Elliott, Jeff Barletta and Matt Piva. Wayne Savage started in net.

Ottawa player notes: scratch Julian Cimadamore, Sean Ryan and Mathieu Methot. Lukas Flueler started in goal.

Lines for tonight: I didn’t keep track throughout the game; for a while (in the first period anyway) McGinn and Liscomb were being double shifted. But basically it looked sorta like:
McGinn, Couture, Lahey
Liscomb, Cowie, Bailey
McGinn/Liscomb, Kiriakou, Alphonso
Ribeiro, Lindsay, Nesbitt

Defensive pairings: Joslin-Vojta, Grimaldi – Beard, Cuma - Demers

Liscomb, Cowie and Bailey were the starting line up but they were barely off the ice when, at 1:02 into the game, Logan Couture scored his 16th of the year on the game’s first shot on goal. Both Crazy-8 buddies notched the assists. It started with a steal in the corner and ended with a nice feed to Logan who was all alone at the corner of the crease. Just over two minutes later, it was Jamie McGinn who was in the right spot at the right moment to pick up the rebound and get it past goalie Wayne Savage. After 4 minutes and 4 shots on goal, Ottawa was up by 2. Yikes, was there a blowout in the making?? It took almost 5 minutes before Toronto managed to get a shot on Flueler. He must have been dozing off all alone back there. But then Toronto slowly started pressing more – they were doing reasonably well on the forecheck (their defense hung their goalie out on the previous goals). Then it started getting a bit more physical and the zebras were letting a lot go. Then Ottawa started getting penalties – mostly because they were getting lazy. Liscomb, Grimaldi and Lahey each took a turn to feel-shame-go-free. Ottawa did a pretty good job most of the time during these various PKs and even managed to get dangerous with potential short-handed goals (which they couldn’t actually score). Toronto slowly built up confidence (Savage made some savage saves!!) and pressure and Ottawa was literally saved by the horn as Toronto managed to get one past Lukas on the wrap-around just after the buzzer sounded to end the period.

Shots after the first period: 15 – 13 for Ottawa (at one point it was 12 – 6)

Matt Lahey still had 27 seconds left to serve in his tripping penalty at the start of the second period. Logan won the face off and he and his specialty team buddies McGinn, Vojta and Joslin easily ran out the clock. Shortly thereafter Jamie McGinn scored his second of the night (his 31st of the season) when he again found himself at the right spot at the right time. Couture and Lahey got the assists. Ottawa was now up 3 – 0. And then it started to slowly fizzle. The 67s didn’t look like they had any energy or organization. Five minutes after Ottawa took the 3 – 0 lead, Toronto’s Cassidy Preston lit a little spark with his 8th goal of the season when he lifted a rebound high into the net for Toronto’s first goal of the night. This was after steadily building pressure and checking aggressively and a breakdown in the Ottawa defense that left him all alone. Then the beginning of a long turning point. It started with Toronto getting three penalties pretty much in a row. Ottawa not only didn’t manage to convert any of them, they didn’t even get a shot on net. I didn’t take an exact time check but I would hazard a guess that neither team got a shot on net in the last 8 or 9 minutes of the game. That was a great boost for Toronto who ranked about 19th in the league in the PK coming into the game. The next bend in the turn came when, behind the play in the dying seconds of the period, Aaron Alphonso caught Kaspers Daugavins with a high stick. Kaspers hit the ice and, to Aaron’s credit, it looked like he was genuinely conflicted between checking that the guy was OK and contributing to the ongoing play. The ref finally whistled the play dead and after some consultation with the other men-in-stripes, assessed Aaron with the 4 minute double minor as the contact drew blood.

After 40 minutes Ottawa was still up by two (3 – 1) with SOGs: 24 – 17 in Ottawa’s favour.

So once again, Ottawa started the period down a man. This time for 3:47. They were doing a pretty good job of killing it off but with just 22 seconds left in the first half of the penalty, Matt Caria went top shelf and notched his 32nd goal of the year (he is 17th in the league in points thus far – ahead of any 67, on a team that is at the bottom of the league). Then Jesse Messier tied it up on the back half of the penalty. The tide had indeed turned and Toronto was definitely back in this game. And they played to win for the rest of the period despite taking a few penalties and having to fight off a 5-on-3 disadvantage for 1:19. Toronto played really well in front of their guy. But it was Flueler who saved the day when a Toronto player got a breakaway in the dying seconds of the game. You could hear the folks around me groaning “oh no!!. And then Lukas did what he is supposed to do – stop the darn thing.

Regulation ended in a tie with shots on goal 38 – 23 for Ottawa. Wayne Savage made the first saves and his defensive buddies cleared the rebounds to keep the game tied.

I have to admit that I didn’t have much confidence going into OT. Toronto definitely had the momentum and the better energy. Toronto’s Darrell Simich was tagged for tripping Liscomb on what looked like a certain goal. Given Ottawa’s rather pathetic performance on the PP thus far, it was a good penalty to take. And Toronto managed to fight it off. Ottawa clearly was putting the pressure on Toronto as the play was pretty much all in the Toronto zone for the OT period. Then Kaspars Daugavins was called for putting the puck over the glass with just under two minutes left in the OT period. Not a problem, right? HA! On a really great second effort by Derek Joslin to keep the puck onside, he managed to pass it to Jakub Vojta in the deep slot and he let ‘er rip. It caught the cross bar on the inside and ended the game! With about a minute and a half left in the period. There was some celebrating by the guys for that one!

So the team delivered an overtime win for Killer’s 2000th game. Score 4 – 3 with final SOGs 46 – 24.

Stars for the game:

1. Jamie McGinn (2 goals and an assist)
2. Matt Caria (Toronto goal and an assist)
3. Logan Couture (goal and an assist)

Hardest working 67: Jakub Vojta with the game winning goal in the overtime period and pretty solid play on the blue line.

Random Thoughts:

  • Ottawa beat the last team in the conference!!! Woo hoo!! I’m not sure whether Toronto played that well or Ottawa played that poorly (likely a bit of both). Toronto’s goalie has to be given some serious credit for this even being close. It wasn' t pretty but it was a win.
  • Speaking of goalies, Lukas seems to have had an epiphany since returning from the Swiss national junior team. He didn’t see any ice time during that tournament but something got him going. He had some outstanding saves tonight. Well done kid – keep it up!
  • I took some pictures tonight but they didn’t turn out well enough for posting. Hopefully Sid had better luck.
  • Nice to feel the energy in the arena again. Was missing it. Need to get the cheering going again. The celebration of Killer’s milestone reminded me of what a really good thing we have going here in the National Capital Region: 2 major junior teams, lots of CHL hockey and an NHL team. This truly is Hockey Country!!
  • Speaking of energy, two of those dancing fools during the YMCA song were our nephew and one of this his room mates. 4th year university students. What else is there to say? Other than I wish I were young again so that making a bigger fool of myself in public wouldn’t be a career-limiting move.
  • What can you say about our power play other than….yechh! No power and too much play. Needs some attention (like Brian needs me or anyone else to point that out).

    The teams do this all again tomorrow at Scotia Bank Place. I hope the boys don’t celebrate the win too much tonight – Toronto will not be a pushover tomorrow either. And I am counting on the 67s to set some Ottawa winning karma in the arena tomorrow for the Leafs – Sens game. A double header Toronto – Ottawa series tomorrow at SBP. Have fun and cheer loud to those Ottawa fans attending either of those games. For those truly fanatic fans who are attending both – I am not worthy to wash your jerseys.

    See you all on Sunday when we see the return of our erstwhile co-captain and his Owen Sound Attack ( who lost tonight to a depleted Kingston team that didn’t have their coach behind the bench either).

    Cheers and to Killer – hope you really enjoyed your cigar and beers tonight. You certainly have earned them. Best wishes for continued longevity and success.