March 27, 2008

Over and Out: Oshawa 4 - Ottawa 1

It’s Friday night in the nation’s capital and instead of sitting in the Ottawa Civic Centre or watching the game on TV, here I am writing the last game summary of the season. Suddenly it’s over and if it’s shocking for me and other fans, I can’t imagine what it’s like for the team. By this time next week they will be back in their own homes and for some finishing the school year in another school.

All the old clichés were trotted out for the game….it’s do or die time, gotta play desperate, there’s no tomorrow, blah blah blah.

Killer didn’t change the line-ups for the game:

JMcGinn, Couture, Bailey
Methot, Kiriakou, Latta
Zamec. Lindsay, Nesbitt
TMcGinn, Martindale, Carnevale

Defensive Pairs
Paryzek, Cuma
Demers, Ryan
McCullough, Ostrcil

Adam Courchaine started in net.

Cowie and Valiquette sat out again.

Once again Ottawa started the game strong and carried the play and quickly racked up the shots on Neuvirth. They were physical, they had jump and had puck possession…but no goals. Thomas Kiriakou was tripped up on an early scoring chance and during the ensuing powerplay they put 4 shots on Neuvirth…but no goal.

And on their first shot on goal John Tavares put the Generals ahead just five minutes into the game when he put a good move around the Ottawa defender and hit the good side of the blocker-side post. Patrick Asselin and James DeLory got the assists. And that ended any hope of Ottawa starting with a lead.

Right after the goal, Zamec was called for hooking but it was Ottawa that had the better scoring chances but again the shots went right into the crest of Neuvirth. Oshawa didn’t get any shots through to Courchaine so that should have been a boost for the 67s.

But man oh man the hockey gods were against the 67s as the next goal was a heartbreaker. Two minutes after the first goal Tyler Cuma put the goal in his own net when he tried to skate in front of Courchaine and ended up surprising him with the puck. Dale Mitchell was credited with the goal. Probably the easiest one he scored all season. And before the night was over, he would wreak havoc on Cuma again…keep reading for that one.

Cuma didn’t really recover after that for the rest of the period and neither did the team. Martindale took a penalty and Ottawa was discombobulated during the ensuing PK. Oshawa took advantage with their third straight goal when Ryan McGinnis was given a golden rebound off an Ottawa shin pad and he scored. Brett McLean and Michael Del Zotto got the assists (although if it was a rebound off an Ottawa player should they have been given the assists??? hmmm).

And that was the end of the game (and the season) for Adam Courchaine – he was pulled before 10 minutes had expired in the game having given up 3 goals on 5 shots. Chris Perugini took over. I should note that Ottawa had 10 shots on goal at this point. But no goals.

Ottawa had another powerplay opportunity but I think they were still reeling from the quick turn of events and they were really unable to get much going.

With a 3 – 0 lead and confidence that Ottawa’s powerplay wasn’t all that effective, Oshawa started hitting again. To some observers (the spousal unit in particular) many, if not most, of the hits were late’ish. In the esteemed opinion of said spousal-unit, late hits have replaced much of the hooking and grabbing that used to take place. Kilrea does not seem to advocate such strategies judging by the style of the 67s play.

As the period wound down, Ottawa was on the PK and had a short-handed opportunity with Cuma bringing the puck up the ice. You could see that he was trying to run out the clock but in the process of doing that he completely missed that Bailey was open for a scoring chance. Oshawa got control of the puck and sent it down ice. The linesman didn’t signal for icing so Cuma and Dale Mitchell skated hard after it. Dale cross-checked Cuma and he went down hard. And he stayed down. Patafie went out to ice, the team doctor came on the ice and eventually Tyler got up to his feet and left the ice with the assistance of Paryzek and Couture (a role to be reversed later in the game). As he left the ice, he was not putting weight on his right leg. Not a good period for Tyler Cuma. Dale Mitchell was assessed a 5-minute penalty and a game misconduct. He actually looked contrite as he left the ice.

That what doesn’t kill you only serves to make your stronger – right? By that reckoning the 67s should have been in fine form in the second period especially starting the period wiht a man-advantage for over 4 minutes.

Not quite.

The 67s just didn’t manage to show the same PP skill as they had earlier in the series. Actually, it was the Generals who had the better scoring chances including a breakaway by Baker that was stopped by a great pad save by Chris Perugini. Killing this PP had to have been a big lift for Oshawa.

Tyler Cuma returned to the bench at about the halfway mark of the period and was taking a shift shortly after that.

The only goal of the period came with less than 5 minutes left when Logan Couture finally scored Ottawa’s (and eventually only) even-strength goal of the series when he tipped in the point shot from Julien Demers. Jamie McGinn got the other assist. At last – now down just down two goals.

Chris Perugini made some great saves early in the third period to keep the 67s in the game.

Killer rode his top line as much as possible for the third period – what did he have to lose. Well, Logan Couture for one. No one seemed to see what happened but Logan ended up prone on the ice near the Ottawa bench. No word on the nature of the injury but from all descriptions it appears that he may have had his bell rung….again. He made it to the bench for a bit but he eventually left the bench for the locker room. What a time that kid has had in Ottawa with various injuries over the course of his tenure.

Somehow with all that happened up to this point the remaining 67s could not generate enough emotion to play angry. Bailey excluded of course. He laid a perfectly clean open-ice hit on Cowick and Cowick decided to hang on Bailey’s leg…and the scrap was on. Despite playing injured and in pain, Bailey was not about to go down with bullets in his gun. It was short and intense and Bailey carried the day. Cowick knew he was hit and owned. Easy to take however given that the Gens won the game.

The killing blow came with less than two minutes to play in a goal-mouth scramble where Cory Nagy was able to force the puck past Chris Perugini who had kept Ottawa in the game since taking over. Tavares and Regan got the assists.

Ottawa never had a chance in the dying minute of the game to pull Perugini for the extra attacker. And the series ended with a sweep with Oshawa taking the 4th game 4 – 1. Final shots were 32 – 34 for Oshawa.

Hardest Working Ottawa 67s as Selected by the Team1200: Chris Perugini (1 goal on 31 shots)

Random Thoughts

  • The Brian Kilrea award was presented to Jason Bailey and Matthieu by Max Keeping.

  • I cannot imagine the frustration of playing hard, controlling the puck and just having everything go against you. If they didn’t have bad luck they wouldn’t have had any luck at all. That the first goal didn’t completely let the air out of them after controlling the play for the whole time up to that point is a credit to their determination in my opinion. That the team didn’t completely fold up their tent and go home after the first period is amazing too.
  • Jason Bailey played on guts and adrenalin. According to team trainer Brian Patafie, if it were September Jason would have been under the knife with an expected return no sooner than January. You certainly cannot criticize him for lack of commitment. This year he has had mono, a broken nose, a broken orbital bone and the sports hernia. Among all his injuries, the sports hernia is clearly the most painful. Hurts when trying to stride hard, hurts to shoot, hurts giving and taking hits. Just plain hurts. Was that a smile or a grimace when he took his turn in recognition for being selected the second star of the game?
  • Chris Perugini made some really good saves to keep the score closer than it might have been including stoning Cowick at the beginning of the third period on a turnover in their own zone during an Ottawa 67s line change.
  • The Ottawa 67s could not have bought a goal in the game. Absolutely no bounces their way. Clearly someone committed some enormous crime against humanity in their previous life to have this fate visited upon them and the entire team.
  • I was expecting to see more anger and desperation, especially after the hit on Cuma and on Couture and knowing how hurt Bailey was playing. Maybe I don’t know how to recognize it.
  • To give the Oshawa Generals credit, they were graceful winners in their opponent’s rink.
  • I hope to write a wrap-up blog by next weekend.
The Game's Three Stars as Selected by the Team1200
1st Star2nd Star3rd Star
John TavaresJason BaileyPatrick Asselin

More pictures – click on any picture in the blog to see a larger image

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