October 18, 2008

So Windsor's the best team in the country eh?

Let’s just do some comparison here:

Ottawa iced a team that has 4 ½ NHL draft picks (counting Cowick as the ½ since he really wasn’t drafted – he got an ATO with Pittsburgh), and a roughly calculated average age of 17.1 years while Windsor iced a team with 8 NHL draft picks, 2 kids already picked as high picks in the next two years and a roughly calculated average age of 18.95 (don’t bet the farm on my arithmetical prowess – it would be a bad bet). On paper, this should have been a blow-out. In reality – not even close to a blow-out. Yes – the 67s lost 5 – 3 (the last goal being an EN) but they scared the Spits on the way to their 10th win (and 4th straight).

The lineups were:

Cowick, Couture, Zamec,
Martindale, Latta, Toffoli
Lindsay, Kiriakou, Nesbitt
Sonnenburg, Anderson, Carnevale

The D-pairs were:

Paryzek, Cuma
Demers, Ryan
Hartwick, Zanetti

Courchaine got his second start of the year.

Scratches: Schinkelshoek, Birkhoff and Hanes.

This was Windsor’s first game in the evil 3-in-3 road trip that all teams endure during the season.

Here’s the game sheet.

The TML line started with Paryzek and Cuma on the blueline.

The Ottawa 67s didn’t seem at all awed by the league-leading Windsor Spitfires and tried to take the game to them early. And it paid off with Tyler Toffoli scoring his 4th goal of the year with 27 seconds left in their first powerplay of the game. Michael Latta and Tyler Cuma got the assist. But Windsor got it back with just under 6 minutes left in the period on their own powerplay. They patiently passed it around, passed it around, passed it around and then team-leading Ryan Ellis beat Courchaine stick-side with a bullet from just inside the blue line.

The 67s had two early powerplays in the second period but couldn’t seem to get much going – managing just 3 shots in the entire 4 minutes. The pace continued to be quick with both teams getting scoring chances that they couldn’t finish. Finally, with about 1:30 left in the period, Martin Paryzek lost the fight along the boards and Dale Mitchell passed to Austin Watson who was heading for the net. Courchaine wasn’t able to make the slide across the crease. After 40 it was 2 -1 for Windsor with a slight edge in shots – 26 – 24.

The third period continued to be quick and Killer continued to give all 4 lines ice time. At about the 7-minute mark Windsor went ahead by two on what looked like a deflection. Greg Nemisz was credited with his 5th goal of the season. Assists went to Adam Henrique and Ryan Ellis. The only dust-up of the game (and it really didn’t look like much from my vantage point at the other end of the ice) was between Andrew Yogan and Mark Zanetti – the call goes to Mark just because the other guy hit the ice first.

So, how did the 67s respond to being down two goals against the first-ranked team in the country? They simply tied it up! During their 5th powerplay of the game, just as I was wondering what the heck Latta was doing (didn’t have one of his best games in my opinion) Julien Demers potted his third goal of the season with a little help from Martindale and Latta. And before the arena announcer had finished with that goal, the game was tied up by a caged Thomas Nesbitt on a neat pass from the corner from Thomas Kiriakou. Kiriakou’s hard work to get to keep getting to the puck first paid off.

This picked up the team and they started pressing hard but they soon got themselves into penalty trouble. First it was Demers getting tagged for interference and with 42 seconds left in that penalty, Sean Ryan was called for high-sticking. The penalty kill was great with Windsor getting only 4 shots through the entire time. The three penalty killers that were on the ice for the 5-on-3 (Kiriakou, Paryzek and I didn’t catch who was the 3rd) were also stuck on the ice for most of the 1:16 that remained in the Ryan penalty. They were able to dig deep and keep the Spitfires at bay until they were finally able to clear the puck for a line change with about 17 seconds left in the kill. That was outstanding!!

The Spits kept the 67s pinned in their own end for what seemed like an eternity and with 2:00 remaining, Greg Nemisz finally scored what would be the winning goal. Taylor Hall had the assist. It was at the other end of the ice and I didn’t see how it happened.

The 67s came right back and caught Engelage wandering a bit. There was a goal-mouth scramble and the 67s players thought they had a goal. Unfortunately, the referee was not at all in position. He was in the corner. With 11 players all crowding the net you think he might have been a tad curious as to what they were up to and snuck up for a peek. But noooooo. A review of the video resulted in a no-goal. Once the 67s gained control of the puck after the next drop, Courchaine was pulled for the extra attacker but they were unable to keep control and Dale Mitchell scored into an empty net.

So, it went right down to the wire with the 67s giving the Spits something to think about.

Random thoughts:
  • Lots of scouts at today’s game. Had a chance to chat with a couple of them (local guys scouting for Philly and Montreal and a scout in training). There were likely others. Also had a chance to chat with the publisher of the McKeen's Hockey Draft Guide. If my online research is correct, his name is Grant McCagg (we didn’t exchange names).
  • It’s hard for me to get a sense of which lines are getting what kind of time but I noticed that all 4 lines got time in all three periods. I’m thinking that Killer wanted to give Jon Carnevale and Riley Sonnenburg a chance to be seen among all the 91 birth years playing tonight. They also earned the ice team (no charity here).
  • Ryan Ellis is just a wee thing. It will be interesting to see if he actually goes top 20 next spring. Then again, the Senators took a shot on skinny short'ish Swedish defenseman as their first round pick this year so who knows. Maybe someone thinks they haven’t hit their growth spurts yet
  • So, what’s up with Couture and Cuma? Are they a tad burned out? I’m not seeing the same players as I recall from last year.
  • Kiriakou is simply a work horse. I don’t think he leaves anything on the ice. He works hard in the corners and along the wall and gets to the puck first often with his effort. Some players could learn from his example (Couture perhaps?).
  • Who knew that Zanetti was such an irritant. Before the fight with Yogan, he was targeted for a few hits – including one that put him in his own bench.
A good effort by the team. They were pretty disappointed at the end of the game having come so close to being world-beaters but upon reflection, I’m sure they will………nah……….they will still be bummed at not being able to finish the Spits off.

Next up, the Soo Greyhounds – See you Sunday!!

Three Stars as Selected by the Team 1200

Team1200 Hardest Working 67s: Thomas Kiriakou