April 04, 2007

30/40 Is In the Books - A Wrap Up For the Year

Well fellow 67s fans, another hockey season has come to an end. An end far too early for many of us. This season marked the 40th anniversary of the 67s organization and the 30th year of Kilrea behind the bench where he also marked his 2000th game in major junior hockey. All fine milestones.

As you readers know, I'm certainly no expert in the fine (?) art of hockey so you may well argue with my following observations. I certainly invite your feedback 'cause among the things that I have learned in my journey to informed fan-hood is that there are as many points of view as there are fans. There really isn't any such thing as "being absolutely right".

We all had high hopes for a wildly successful season and a deep run into the playoffs. Didn't quite turn out that way.

Some numbers:

  • The record: 30 wins, 34 losses, 1 overtime loss, and 4 shoot-out losses for 7th place in the conference.

  • Top scorer, Jamie McGinn placed 17th in the league overall with 89 points (46 goals and 43 assists). He didn't miss a game.

  • The 67s next top scorer is Logan Couture who ranked 33rd in the league with 78 points in 54 games (26 goals and 52 assists)

  • Rounding out the top three is Brett Liscomb at 81st (interesting - his jersy number too) with 55 points in 62 games (24 goals and 31 assists)

  • In the rookie ranks, Cody Lindsay ended up 28th with 27 points (9 goals and 18 assists)

  • In the D-corps: Derek Joslin ranked 14th in the league with 49 points (11 goals, 38 assists), Joe Grimaldi was 25th with 36 points (2 goals an 34 assists) and Tyler Cuma was 60th with 19 points (3 goals and 16 assists).

  • Goals for: 198 (6th in the conference and 12th in the league)

  • Goals against: 274 (6th in the conference and 8th in the league)

  • In goalie stats, number 1 Brady Morrison was 13th in Goals Against Average, 14th in Save Percentage and 16th in wins.

  • 14th in the league for power plays having scored 90 goals in 497 chances. Not sure where short-handed goals against figures into the stats.

  • 13th in the league on the penalty kill having allowed 91 goals on 437 shots allowed.

What the heck does all that mean? To my untrained eye, it looks like the team was pretty much middle of the road in all areas. Didn't dominate anywhere; didn't lag signficantly anywhere. So a first round exit might have been well expected.

One charactaristic of this team was inconsistentcy. It was amazingly consistent how inconsistent they could be. They could go from winning against teams they shouldn't have (Barrie twice) to losing badly to teams they should have beaten (Erie, Toronto). It was always a guessing game which team would show up.

But it was still fun to watch and fun to be a fan. Major junior hockey is what it is - exciting, unpredictable hockey. We were entertained by some incredible plays, big hits, exciting goals and spectacular saves. Well worth the price of admission.

Goodbye and Good Luck to This Year's Overagers:

Brodie Beard: The longest serving 67s from this year's batch of overagers having joined the club in the 02-03 season. This South Porcupine native played 270 games as a barber pole scoring 10 goals and 43 assists. His total PIMs were 225. No word on his plans for the future. Whatever he decides, here's hoping the best for him.

Brett Liscomb
Brett joined the team mid-way 05-06 in a trade with the Windsor Spitfires. He often played bigger than he is, not hesitating to mix it up with guys much bigger. He's the inspiriation for our proposed Gulliver Rule: players who tangle with others who are at least a head taller should be allowed a seconder without getting the third-man in penalty. Brett has mused about going down east to go to university and play hockey. Good luck and say hey to the other former 67s out there.

Joe Grimaldi: Joe also joined the 67s mid-way through 05-06 having left the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He certainly managed to evoke strong responses from the fans. In 100 games he scored 14 goals, 55 assists and served a whopping 292 penalty minutes - a habit that the fans reacted the most to. For my part, I always liked how he played in the offensive zone but his defensive zone play made me nervous. He had a try-out with the Islanders last year; who knows what will happen this year. Good luck Joe.

Will We See Them Next Year?
Captain Derek Joslin
Derek is another player who has spent his entire OHL career as a 67s player having joined in 03-04. He didn't miss a game during his run here and amassed 30 goals and 101 assists. He also was named to this year's Eastern Conference All Star Team. Derek was signed by the San Jose Sharks in December and popular thinking is that he will join former team mates Lukas Kaspar and Brad Staubitz down on the farm in Worcester. Rumour has it that he is already there on an Amature Try Out (ATO) contract. He will be missed but we wish him all the best.

Assistant Captain Jamie McGinn:
Jamie had a career year here in his third season. He was the team's top scorer with 89 points in the regular season and 6 in the short playoff run. He too was a member of the Eastern Conference All Star Team. He's an unsigned, second round pick of the San Jose Sharks and word has it that he too is off to Worcester for an ATO. Some have speculated that he may not be back but I think he will - both Sharks teams appear to be rather full at the moment. But the experience will do him good. Looking forward to seeing him next year - possibly as the new captain.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketLukas Flueler
This rookie goalie from Switzerland came into the club with a lot of promise but he struggled in the first half. He went home to be a member of the Swiss World's Junior team and came back a diffferent kid. Not sure what the status is for European players - sometime real soon teams will be limited to 1 European on the roster.

Aaron Alphonso
This third season with the 67s has been his most productive, scoring 17 goals and 24 assists. He played on pretty much every line, ending the season on the top line with Couture and McGinn. Some have speculated for some time that he is talented enough to bring in some solid defenseman in a trade. It would be sad to see him go but it takes a good player to get a good player. We'll see what the summer brings.

Potential Overagers Next Year:

Brady Morrison
Last year's goalie was a tough act to follow but Brady came in and gave it a good run. He joined the team in 05-06 after starting in Kingston the prior year. He played a total of 66 games for Ottawa resulting in a win/loss record of 26 and 32 with a 3.75 GAA and .889 SV%. He's eligible as an overager next year but it seems he may have already comitted to Carleton University.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJakub Vojta
The other European member of the 67s squad, Jakub is an unsigned prospect of the Carolina Hurricanes. This year he was a member of the Czech Republic's World Junior hockey team. While Ottawa will be hurting on the blue line, it's largely thought that he won't be back next year.

Jason Bailey
Jason joined the team mid-year, leaving Michigan State University for the OHL. In his 35 games he scored 7 goals and was credited with 9 assists. He will likely be back next year. He's an unsigned third round pick of the Anaheim Ducks.

Players We Expect To See Next Year

Logan Couture
What a year he had...6 seconds away from joining the U-17 squad but instead ended up spending serious time healing a very bad laceration. Comes back from that just to get dropped by a nasty bout of mono. It took a long time for him to get back to form but once he did, he did really well. He missed 14 games and probably played nearly as many at sub-strength and he still notched 78 points. Logan also played for the winning team in the Prospects Game. A full year of good health will be amazing. He is currently in Finland as a member of the U-18 team.

Good luck and for goodness sake stay healthy!!

Tyler Cuma and Julien Demers give us lots to look forward to on the blue line. Tyler was a member of the gold medal Ontario Men's Hockey Team at the Canada Winter Games this year. Julien was a mid-season call up that proved he was ready to stay.

Cody Lindsay
Our top scoring rookie, Cody scored 9 goals and had 18 assists and earned pretty decent ice time this year. He was also a member of the gold medal Ontario Men's Hockey Team at the Canada Winter Games.

To the remaining 67s: Sean Ryan, Thomas Kiriakou, Matt Lahey, Matt Ribeiro, Matthieu Methot, Scott Cowie, Thomas Nesbitt and Julien Cimadamore, sorry, I didn't get decent pictures to publish. Of course we all look forward to seeing you next year and celebrating your contributions to the team.

That's it - that's a wrap on the season. I will now get my playoff fix from the Senators - have all my playoff tickets already in hand.

Hope everyone has a great off season - hope to see you all next season.

Go 67s Go!!

April 02, 2007

Playoff Run Ends: Ottawa 3 – Belleville 4 in Overtime

As we were enjoying our after dinner beverages on Saturday night my sister-in-law mentioned that she would like to go to the game in Belleville. I thought it was a good idea but our respective spouses were disinclined to join us. Who needs 'em to have fun? So, having secured tickets on Sunday morning, the two of us were on the road to Belleville to see game 5.

I couldn’t catch the line-up change announcements in the arena but Matts Lahey and Ribeiro were out of the Ottawa line up.

Lines for the game: It seemed there were frequent changes but they looked sorta kinda like:

McGinn, Couture, Alphonso
Methot, Liscomb, Bailey
Cowie, Kiriakou, Nesbitt
Cimadamore, Lindsay, and a double shifter

Defensive pairings: Joslin –Vojta, Cuma – Demers, Beard – Grimaldi with Sean Ryan thrown into the mix now and again.

Brady Morrison got the call again.

As I have mused before, I’m not sure that the warm-up is any indication of what’s to come. The 67s warm-up looked kinda flat. R (my sister-in-law….all identities have been changed to protect the innocent) suggested that the boys were playing mind games with the Bulls. She may have been right. Read on faithful readers…..

Twenty-five seconds into the game Ottawa was assessed its first of 11 penalties of the game when Scott Cowie was called for a high stick. The PK didn’t last too long as 12 seconds into it Belleville’s Matt Beleski was tagged for interference. About a minute into the 4-on-4 hockey Belleville’s Nick Pageau scored his second goal of the playoffs going upstairs from the left face-off circle to beat Brady on his first shot on goal of the game. Oh my! But Belleville’s lead didn’t last all that long as Brett Liscomb also scored his second of the playoffs off a shot from the point from Jakub Vojta just 2:17 into the game. Cody Lindsay got the other assist. The game was quickly tied at 1.

Ottawa was doing a good job of cycling the puck down low and creating good scoring chances but they just couldn’t bury it. Ottawa got a PP when Matt Beleski was sent off for his second penalty of the period. The Barber Poles had a real tough time generating anything but finally, Jamie McGinn notched his 5th goal of the playoffs to put the 67s ahead. Logan Couture and Jakub Vojta got the assists. In the last 5 minutes it looked like Ottawa was easing off and giving Belleville more room on their rather large ice surface. But Brett Liscomb generated some excitement when he picked up a turnover in the Ottawa defensive zone and skated in on Lalande to create a scoring chance. He also managed to get Belleville on the wrong end of a series of infractions that were committed in the ensuing gathering in front of Lalande. For his efforts, he was called for spearing but Shawn Mattias was nailed for roughing and Nick Pageau for cross checking. This also resulted in an arena chant of “we want a ref!!”. Even the six-year old behind us accused the refs of being Killer’s boys. Ottawa only managed 1 SOG for the two minutes and then back on the PK with 16 seconds left when Thomas Nesbitt was called for tripping.

The first period ended with Ottawa up by 1 Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket with the Bulls leading in SOG 14 to 11. It sure looked promising.

Ottawa started the second period on the PK for 1:44 but the two main PK units of Cowie, Kiriakou, Vojta, Joslin and McGinn, Couture, Demers and Grimaldi kept the Bulls from even registering a shot on goal. But, in a sign of things to come, Ottawa was back on the PK in short order when Brett Liscomb was called for elbowing (the kid is 5’9”!! How can he possibly elbow anybody??!!). Anyhoo….Belleville’s Matt Beleski made up for past sins as he buried a beauty pass through the crease to tie it up.

Ottawa then got a PP opportunity but only managed a couple shots on Lalande. Ottawa was having a rough time staying onside as the intensity picked up. But as the period and the game neared the half-way mark Logan Couture gave the 67s the lead again on a missile from the high slot as he came off the bench on a delayed penalty against the Bulls. T’was indeed a thing of beauty.

And then Ottawa promptly went back on the PK and then a couple more times for good measure. While Derek Joslin was serving a very questionable hooking penalty, Belleville’s P.K. Subban notched his first of the playoffs to tie it up on a blast from the blue line.

So after 40 minutes the game was tied at 3 with Belleville holding the slight edge on shots: 27 to Ottawa’s 23.

We weren’t long into the period when Brett Liscomb earned his 4th penalty of the game when he was nabbed for hooking. Not only did the boys limit Belleville to 1 SOG, Jamie McGinn had a great chance at a SHG but couldn’t get it past Lalande. The teams traded a couple more penalties in a generally fast-paced period and I got worried about another potential 3-minute meltdown but neither team was able to score in the third frame.

So regular time ended in a 3 – 3 tie with Belleville still edging the 67s in SOG: 35 to 31.

On to overtime. Belleville came out pressing and the barn was hoppin’. The Bulls pretty much had Ottawa on their heels from the get-go; the 67s just couldn’t generate any sustained offense. The game ended almost 6 minutes into the extra frame when Eric Tangradi scored his second GWG of the series as he buried the rebound.

Stars for the game according to the game sheet:

1. Eric Tangradi (Belleville – game and playoff round winning goal, assist)
2. Logan Couture (goal)
3. P. K. Subban (Belleville goal)

Team 1200 Hardest working 67: didn’t pick it up (of course)
Blitzen’s Hardest working 67: Brady Morrison. He made more than a few saves that kept the team in the game.

Random Thoughts:
  • Despite the loss, this game was well worth the trip. Even getting in at 1:30 am and getting up at 5:00. The Belleville fans were great as were the many 67s fans.

  • The 67s beat themselves by getting too many penalties. Killer basically used the same players on the PK and they just ran out of steam.
  • This series was not handed to Belleville; they had to work for it.

  • Behind us sat an incredibly articulate 6-year old girl who had many opinions about the game which she shared willingly. But over the course of the game she was almost won over by our conversation and Lukas Flueler who gave her some glove love. She actually started chanting to the Ottawa cheers. But it didn’t last as she quickly reminded us at the end of the game that “Ottawa was done”. Despite that, she broke out into tears when she noticed that some of the 67s were upset at the outcome. She felt quite badly for them. You’re a nice kid Allie – you’re folks have done well.
  • Speaking of nice parents, I managed to drain the battery of my truck by leaving the lights on (ya ya I know – dumb!!). Aaron Alphonso’s dad was kind enough to boost the vehicle (after noticing that I was wearing a 67s jersey). We didn’t know who he was until we were chatting over the battery terminals. Thanks Mr. Alphonso – much appreciated. Can’t imagine what would have happened if we needed a boost from the bus! (remind you of the TV commercial where the car blows up??).
  • Official attendance was 2952, of which at least 52 were Ottawa fans. The remaining 2900 created more atmosphere at the Yardmen Arena than 6000 do at the Civic Centre. The “more cowbells” was a good game day gimmick.
  • BTW, the picture in the Ottawa Citizen had it wrong…it was Tyler Cuma in the crease helping Brady out.

Hope to write a season wrap-up update by the end of the week.

Go 67s Go!!