January 31, 2009

Bulls 6 - 5 in OT

Cory Tanaka and PK Subban teamed up with just 45 seconds left in the OT period to give Belleville the win for the night and the regular season series.

It was Belleville's second road game in as many nights with the Bulls winning 6 - 3 in Peterborough on Thursday. The win stretched their winning streak to 8 games. Belleville's scratches were rookies Cody Alcock and Andy Bathgate. Phillipp Grubauer started in net.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Couture, Nigro,
Blunden, Martindale, Nesbitt
Lindsay, Kiriakou, Carnevale
Sonnenburg, Anderson, Schinkelshoek

Demers, Gibbons,
Birkhoff, Paryzek
Hartwick, Zanetti

Goal: Perugini

Scratches: Toffoli, Hanes, Cuma (all injured)

The Belleville Bulls scored quickly on their first shot on goal which came on a power play with Julien Demers in the hoosegow for checking Bryan Cameron from behind. Eric Tangradi's shot deflected in off the skate of Martin Paryzek and just 1:09 into the game Belleville was on the scoreboard.

Less than 5 minutes later Belleville went up by two when Nick Palmieri slid an easy one past Chris Perugini. Shots on goal at this point were 2 - 5 for Belleville.

It didn't look good. Belleville came out hard and strong and had Ottawa was not responding in kind. Ottawa was unable to do anything with their two power plays up to this point having managed only 2 shots on goal for the two man advantages and Belleville having more than a couple of good short handed chances.

But it all changed in the blink of an eye when the top line struck twice in 11 seconds. Anthony Nigro scored his 19th goal of the season when he scored from the slot on a play that started with a PK turnover. Logan Couture and Travis Gibbons were the helpers. 11 seconds later it was Logan Couture getting his 19th goal of the season with a goal mouth goal to tie up the game. Corey Cowick and Anthony Nigro got the assists.

And then the game picked up. By the time the period ended, Ottawa had outshot Belleville 16 - 10.

The Bulls came out crabby, especially Subban. They were a much chippier team than I seem to recall and they got away with a lot of stick work including Bryan Cameron's little stick throwing tantrum when he was down in the Ottawa goal crease. No penalty for that per se - it's just an indication of their behaviour. The two refs were satisfied with their ice-level viewing vantage points and less inclined to use their whistles.

The second period was not a great display of goal tending as 5 goals were scored by the two teams including one scored on a penalty shot by Shawn Lalonde.

Ottawa came out of that period on top with two goals from Ryan Martindale and a power play goal from former Belleville Bull Stephen Blunden. Assists went to Ryan Martindale, Stephen Blunden and Thomas Nesbitt (2).

Shawn Lalonde got the other Bellville goal in the second period on the power play. Another puck that deflected in off Julien Demers.

George Burnett wasn't taking any chances in this close game and he put Mike Murphy in net to start the third. Guess he lost confidence in Grubauer. Having their star goalie in net and starting the period on the power play gave the Bulls confidence that they rode hard all period. They had Ottawa on their heels pretty much the entire time so wasn't a surprize when Cory Tanaka tied the game.

The game went to OT. Ottawa started with the power play but were unable to score on their chances. Cory Tanaka finished the game with his second goal of the game beating Perugini short side with just 45 seconds left.

Belleville takes the regular season series 5 - 3 with 3 games going to overtime.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200:
1st Star - Ryan Martindale
2nd Star - Shawn Lalonde
3rd Star - Cory Tanaka
(I didn't get good in-game photos of all the stars)

Hardest Working 67s as selected by the Team1200: Logan Couture

Random Thoughts:
  • Subban could be a soccer player with all that on-ice drama. A bit embarrassing really. Glad he didn't pull any of that during the World Juniors (although I'm sure that Quinn would have made short shrift of any over acting).
  • Ottawa's power play seems to have short-circuited lately. Just 1 power play goal in 5 chances tonight.
  • Speaking of penalties, it seems that Ottawa has been getting more penalties lately.
  • Ottawa had its chances tonight - just couldn't bury them.
  • Belleville is strong, fast and skilled. And they play with a lot of confidence. A lot of confidence.

Ottawa gets a day to think about this loss and prepare for the London Knights who handed them their first OT loss (Ottawa has yet to win a game in OT). London and Belleville play today (Saturday). Ottawa will need to start with speed and determination and play that way for the entire 60 minutes.

See you Sunday!

More Pictures:

January 26, 2009

Breaking Down the Final 20 Games

  • 9 road games; 8 of them in February
  • 11 home games including the last 6 games of the regular season
  • 15 of the remaining games are against conference rivals:
    • 3 against Kingston
    • 4 against Peterborough
    • 2 against Niagara
    • 1 each against Belleville and Brampton

  • 3 3-in-3 weekends left:
    • Brampton (home), Oshawa (road), Kingston (home) 1st weekend in February
    • Peterborough (home), Brampton (road), Owen Sound (road) the following weekend
    • Guelph (road), Erie (road), Niagara (road) last weekend in February

This time last year:
  • Ottawa's record was 22-21-2-2 for 49 points
  • GF 149 and GA 172
  • Top scorers were Couture (17 goals/45 points); McGinn (20 goals/43 points) and Kiriakou (12 goals/31 points).
  • Couture was out with a concussion, Lahey with his shoulder, Latta with mono and Bailey with a broken nose and orbital bone.
This year:
  • Their record is 28-16-2-2 for 60 points
  • GF 185 and GA 151
  • Top scorers are Logan Couture (18 goals/48 points); Corey Cowick (29 goals/46 points) and Ryan Martindale (20 goals/43 points)
  • best PP in the league; 3rd best PK in the league; least penalized team in the league
  • 3rd best road team in the league (behind Windsor and London); 8th best home record
  • The injuries are Cuma (knee - should be ready to skate soon), Hanes (ankle - at least a couple of weeks away), Toffoli (concussion - not before the weekend), and Courchaine (concussion-like symptoms, not before the weekend).

What a difference a year makes.

January 25, 2009

67s Play with the Otters

Today's game was the Otters' third in three coming into Ottawa after an 8 - 2 loss in Belleville last night. The 67s had the luxury of resting yesterday after their 6 - 3 win at home on Friday.

Erie Goalie Jaroslav Janus will be a bit familiar with Ottawa having played here for the Slovak national team during the World Junior Hockey Championship less than a month ago.

Key matchup: the best PP in the league (Ottawa) up against the best PK in the league.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Couture, Nigro,
Blunden, Martindale, Nesbitt
Lindsay, Kiriakou, Carnevale
Sonnenburg, Anderson, Schinkelshoek

Demers, Gibbons,
Birkhoff, Paryzek
Hartwick, Zanetti

Goal: Perugini
Scratches: Toffoli, Hanes, Cuma

The scoring started quickly with the Erie Otters get the first goal just 56 seconds into the game on their first shot. Brandon Biggers' shot from the slot was tipped by Luke Gadzic over the stick side of Chris Perugini.

The game was tied less than 30 seconds later when Jaroslav Janus misjudged the puck as it bounced off the boards and then off the side of the net to Thomas Kiriakou who buried it. Cody Lindsay and Brian Birkhoff were credited with the assists. The rest of the period was pretty normal. Neither team seemed to get much going and it looked rather sloppy for the most part.

Early going in the second period looked pretty much like the first period .... and then it changed. It got faster, the 67s started finding each other and it opened up. Cody Lindsay was credited with Ottawa's second goal when his attempted wrap around hit the defender and deflected pretty much straight up. It came down on the net, bounced and hit Janus and into the net. Brian Birkhoff and Anthony Zanetti got the assists. A good point-night going for the D so far. Then, with 2 1/2 minutes left in the frame, Thomas Nesbitt scored what would turn out to be the game-winning-goal with a wrist shot from the face-off circle and over the shoulder of Jaroslav Janus. Brian Birkhoff got his 3rd assist of the game.

Ryan Martindale wrapped up the scoring for Ottawa 5 minutes into the third with assists from Stephen Blunden and (you guessed it) Brian Birkhoff.

Erie got one goal back at the halfway mark in a goal mouth scramble (rookie Mike Cazzola) but that's as close as it got.

Erie won the test of the special teams having held off Ottawa on all 4 powerplays. But Ottawa won where it counted - on the scoreboard: 4-2. Shots were 41-29 for Ottawa.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67s as selected by the Team1200: Chris Perugini

Random Thoughts:
  • This was an OK game. I expected Erie to be tired and the 67s to be in full stride. There were some pretty good moments but this was short of top-drawer for them.
  • Except for Birkhoff of course. He had a great game. Points before tonight: 6. Points in tonight's game: 4. Good game and points too! He is having a great rookie year.
  • Ottawa is now 1 win away from matching the total number of regular season wins last year.
  • The 67s next play in Kingston on Wednesday and then welcome Belleville and London next weekend. Let's hope that they are not good hosts.

More Pictures:

Janus flashing the leather to steal one from Logan Couture.

Dancing fans!

January 24, 2009

Ottawa 6 - Oshawa 3

Ottawa has now won 5 of the 6 matches between these two clubs this year. Oshawa came into Ottawa after a disappointing 6-3 loss in Peterborough on Thursday in a game where they had a three goal lead. Peterborough came back with 6 (!) unanswered goals.

Oshawa is now officially in rebuilding mode after getting half a team's worth of players and picks in the big Tavares, Del Zotto, Borden trade with London.

Ottawa lost in Belleville on Wednesday.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Couture, Nesbitt,
Nigro, Martindale, Toffoli
Lindsay, Kiriakou, Carnevale
Sonnenburg, Anderson, Blunden

Demers, Gibbons,
Birkhoff, Paryzek
Hartwick, Zanetti

Goal: Courchaine

Scratches: Schinkelshoek, Hanes, Cuma

Ottawa had the jump on Oshawa early in the first period, forechecking well, controlling the puck and getting some early scoring chances but it was Oshawa that drew first blood on the score card scoring on just their 3rd shot on goal. Former Ottawa67s Brett Valliquette got the puck to Jeff Hayes who was unattended at the top of the crease for the easy goal.

But it didn't take long for the 67s to get that one back on a play that started with Brian Birkhoff keeping the puck in at the point. Anthony Nigro made a nice drop pass to Ryan Martindale who wristed it into the top corner to tie up the game.

Ottawa's first power play created an interesting two minutes. First, there was quite the goal mouth scramble where Bailie was unable to smother the puck but Ottawa just couldn't get it through all the bodies. Then Tyler Toffoli lost his helmet and had to leave the ice. Oshawa was unable to take advantage of the brief 4-on-4 and clear the puck. Then in another goal mouth scramble, Kory Nagy was called for covering the puck in the crease and a penalty shot was awarded. Logan Couture gave Ottawa the lead when he beat Bailie 5-hole. All this in just the first 49 seconds of the PP. Ottawa didn't add to the damage in the remaining 1:11 of the PP.

Thomas Nesbitt closed out the scoring in the first period on a slap shot from inside the blue line that went over the shoulder of Bailie. Stephen Blunden got the assist.

Both teams started the second period with new goalies; Bailie was replaced by Michael Zador after relinquishing 3 goals on 6 shots. Perugini came in relief of Courchaine who was injured when his head or neck hit the crossbar when Oshawa scored its only goal in the first period.

Cody Lindsay gave Ottawa a 3-goal lead when he picked up a rebound during a power play early in the second period. Travis Gibbons and Julien Demers got the assists.

Ottawa dominated the first half of the game: lots of puck possession, out skating Oshawa and outshooting them 21 - 6 by the time the PP goal was scored. Then they took their edge off and let Oshawa back into the game with two goals to make it a 1-goal game. John Padulo and Tyler Taylor got the goals to give Oshawa a chance.

It took Corey Cowick all of 33 seconds in the third period to give Ottawa a 2-goal cushion and some breathing room. Anthony Nigro fed the puck to him from behind for his second assist in the game. Logan Couture got the other assist.

Ottawa got back to how they played in the first period and Zador did a good job of keeping Ottawa off the scoreboard. But it was Thomas Nesbitt who closed the door on any comeback by the Gens. With Travis Gibbons in the penalty box late in the game (for the second time in the game and representing ALL of Ottawa's penalties), DePiero pulled Zador for the two-man advantage. Thomas Nesbitt out hustled Brett Parnham to a puck that was cleared out of the Ottawa zone and put it into the empty net. Martin Paryzek and Chris Perugini got the assists on the short-handed, empty-net goal.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67s as selected by the Team1200: Thomas Nesbitt

Random Thoughts:
  • While Ottawa dominated most of the game, there were some good moments of fast, up and down hockey.
  • Tyler Toffoli went into the boards very awkwardly in a missed hit during Ottawa's first power play. He got up very slowly and was in obvious discomfort. From my vantage point it looked like he went in head-first. Nigro was moved up to take Toffoli's end. Hope Toffoli is better soon. Looks like he might have a concussion.
  • I have heard the expression "happy feet" in describing a goalie who appears to be uncomfortable in net. I think I finally saw it. Perugini looked quite skittish in the early going and gave out some really juicy rebounds in the game.
  • Word is that all three injured players (Schinkelshoek, Cuma and Hanes) are progressing. Hanes is off crutches.
  • Ottawa's power play is pretty good most of the time. Good puck movement, strong cycling, and good scoring chances.
  • Corey Cowick, Logan Couture and Julien Demers have been named to the Eastern Ontario All Stars team. That game will take place in Windsor in February.

More Pictures

Rogers' Colin Zappia and Jared McGrath who's daughter is dealing with cancer are among the 46 brave folks who agreed to shave their heads in "Shave for the Cure" to raise money for cancer research. The event is on track to raise close to $60,000.

January 17, 2009

Ottawa Loses to Saginaw in a Spirited Game

The Saginaw Spirit came to town for their second game in their eastern swing having won in Peterborough on Thursday. It was the second game in a row for the highly ranked (top in NA) goalie, Edward Pasquale although conditioning shouldn't be a concern since he has played 40 of his team's 42 games so far this year.

Ottawa had not seen any action since their bad loss last Sunday. Both teams came into the game with 51 points and in second place in their respective divisions.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Couture, Toffoli
Nigro, Martindale, Nesbitt
Lindsay, Kiriakou, Carnevale
Sonnenburg, Anderson, Blunden

Demers, Gibbons,
Birkhoff, Paryzek
Hartwick, Zanetti

Goal: Courchaine

Scratches: Schinkelshoek, Hanes, Cuma

Ottawa was pretty lucky to come out of the first period with the game still scoreless. It took a while for either team to get anything going but it was Saginaw that took slowly took control and had the better scoring chances. Ottawa had an early power play which the Spirit defended very well. They've had some practice at it since they are the 4th most penalized team in the league (behind Windsor, London and SSM). Ottawa is the least penalized team in the league.

By close to the halfway mark, SOGs were 7 - 2 in Saginaw's favour but Ottawa started getting their legs and adjusting to the speed of the Spirit. They managed to close the gap on the shot clock but none of them were serious scoring chances. As the clock wound down for the period, Anthony Zanetti made some great plays to breakup Saginaw scoring chances.

The second period was outstanding. The 67s came out of the gate ready to play a fast paced energetic game of hockey. They had early pressure on Saginaw and over the period, everyone seemed to contribute.

Corey Cowick finally got the scoring started at just about the halfway mark with his 26th goal of the season from a goal-mouth scramble. Travis Gibbons and Tyler Toffoli got the helpers. Then Ottawa went up by two with just under 7 minutes left in the period on a great passing play between Couture and Tofoli that got Pasquale moving and Logan Couture went 5-hole. Tyler Toffoli and Corey Cowick assisted.

But before the announcement was finished, Saginaw scored its first of three unanswered goals. It was a drop pass from former Ottawa 67s Joe Pleckaitis to Jordon Skellett who beat Courchaine blocker side with a slapshot from inside the faceoff circle.

The third period was not as fast as the second but it was still fun to watch. Both teams played hard but it seemed that Saginaw was building strength rather than losing strength. They had Ottawa on its heels as the period started winding down and with just over 2 and a half minutes left, Joe Underwood tied the game with a shot that got through between Courchaine and the goal post.

The game went to overtime but it was very short lived. Just 38 seconds into the period, Corey Cowick was called for goaltender interference. 21 seconds later, T.J. Brodie preserved Saginaw's perfect record (they had not lost their previous 2 OT periods) when he found the back of the net.

Saginaw won 3 - 2 in OT with final shots 35 - 39 for Saginaw.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67s as selected by the Team1200: Logan Couture

Random Thoughts:
  • Ottawa just could not bury their chances. I would give Saginaw the edge on overall skill and quality of play. They seemed to have control more than Ottawa.
  • Edward Pasquale is the top-ranked NA goalie in the recently released NHL Entry Draft Rankings. The results speak for themselves but he seems to have a strange style at times. It seemed that he simply got in the way without trying to smother the puck. There were some really juicy rebounds.
  • Interesting that the 4th most penalized team only was assessed only 5 penalties and the least penalized team was assessed 7 (one was a 10 minute misconduct assessed on Cowick when he probably offered an unsolicited opinion on his penalty). Saginaw got away with a lot of holding and interference.
  • When we got home, the spousal unit immediately checked the call on Cowick in the OT period (we recorded the game). He watched, re-watched, slo-mo, really slo-mo, frame-by-frame and kept saying "see? see? look here. he was pushed into the goalie. he was trying to stop. he had no-where to go.". It wasn't clear to me. The refs had much less time to make a decision. Corey's driving to the net is part of what makes him successful. This time it cost his team the game.
  • Looks like Zanetti is trying to improve his draft ranking. He has really picked up his play of late.
  • A lot of Saginaw fans in the crowd tonight. I spoke very briefly with a few who indicated that they were taking in all the games on this road trip. Dedicated.
  • The City of Ottawa has to replace, or at least wash, the flags in the Civic Centre. The state of these flags is disrespectful.

More Pictures:
Courchaine at the ready


Comrie fans

Canadian Tire Player

January 12, 2009

Mid-Year NHL Entry Draft Rankings

The mid-year NHL Entry Draft rankings are out. The previous draft ranking had the NA skaters and goalies separated by league. This ranking is simply split between NA and Europe.

Here's the link.

The highest (and only) ranked Ottawa 67s on list is Mark Anthony Zanetti who is slotted at 139. Former Ottawa 67s Michael Latta is at 42. Chris Perugini is at position 16 on the NA goalie list, surprisingly ahead of Jaroslav Janus who had an outstanding run at the WJHC. The WHL leads the way with 41 of the 210 listed players, the OHL follows with 37, with the Q rounding out the CHL representation with 30 players. Over half of the ranked eligible players come from the CHL

As I mentioned in other posts, I had the chance to chat with a scout sitting in front of us during the tournament. He left me with the impression that he was not spending a lot of time scouting the 67s. He indicated that he was aware of Ryan Martindale but left it at that.

He also mentioned that generally they do not scout anyone who was not drafted in their first year of eligibility but will pay attention if the player distinguishes himself at a game where the scout just happens to be. This is what is happening with Janus as I believe he was eligible last year and was undrafted.

This just makes for interesting hockey chat - it all comes down to who is available, who is doing the chosing and what their own scouts have to say.

Good luck to all draft-eligible players.

January 11, 2009

Some days you're the pigeon...

...and some days you're the statue.

This was a statue day for Adam Courchaine. Two goals deflected in from this rookie defensemen and he had a self-inflicted short-handed goal against. Mercifully he was spared any more grief in the third period as Perugini was in at the start.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Couture, Nesbitt,
Nigro, Martindale, Toffoli
Lindsay, Kiriakou, Carnevale
Sonnenburg, Anderson, Blunden

Demers, Gibbons,
Birkhoff, Paryzek
Hartwick, Zanetti

Goal: Courchaine

Scratches: Schinkelshoek (third straight healthy scratch), Hanes, Cuma

Plymouth certainly was the better team today. They won by two in Kingston on Friday, lost by two in Belleville yesterday and came on full steam today. They outworked Ottawa in just about every facet of the game: getting to the puck, battling on the boards, moving out crisply, collapsing in front of their goalie and without a doubt earning some serious puck luck along the way.

Ottawa's only saving grace was their power play which continued to click for them; all three goals came on the power play and they were 3/6 for the day.

I missed yesterday's game due to another obligation but managed to catch the last 6 minutes on the radio on the way home. From the sounds of things, Ottawa did not play with the same jump and intensity as on Friday night. So it didn't surprise me all that much that they were so flat today. Perhaps they have been reading their press lately (always a mistake).

Plymouth started strong and really never let up. Although Ottawa had more shots on goal, very few of them were scoring chances. Despite the rather uninspired play in the first, it was still a 1-goal game with Plymouth being on the right side of that stat.

The second period was Ottawa's undoing. 5 goals on 17 shots. The backbreaker was the 7th goal. With Ottawa on the powerplay, Plymouth's Vern Cooper got control of the puck from below his own icing line and it down the ice. It kinda rolled along the ice toward Courchaine and Adam didn't take it seriously. So the puck took a funny bounce and went between his skates and into the net. He didn't even want to turn around. At least when it happened to Toskala last year, Toskala was trying to play the puck. Major brain cramp for Courchaine that just topped off a really crappy afternoon.

Perugini was in the net for the third period stopping all 6 six shots he saw and the 67s played reasonably well but I think the Whalers were just playing good enough to protect their lead.

Ottawa goals were scored by Anthony Nigro (2) as he continues his better-than-a-point-a-game pace and Julien Demers. They all came on the power play. Assists went to Ryan Martindale (2), Tyler Toffoli, and Chris Perugini.

Scoring for Plymouth were Tyler J. Brown, Ryan Hayes, Joe Gaynor, Vern Cooper (2), Michal Jordan,and Brett Bellemore.

Hopefully this is just a minor set-back and they get back into form next weekend.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67s as selected by the Team1200: Tyler Toffoli

Random Thoughts:
  • The top line wasn't in top form today. The fourth line saw a lot of ice time.
  • The rookie defensemen, Birkhoff and Hartwick, did not have a good game. Two goals bounced off them into the net.
  • The anthem singer they had today has a wonderful voice.
  • The 67s need to change their advertising for their package that includes Killer's last home game. It's no longer John Tavares and the Oshawa Generals.
  • Hopefully they have this worked out of their system for a while.

Have a good week everyone. See you next Friday as the 67s take on Saginaw to start the weekend.

January 10, 2009

Ottawa downs IceDogs 6 - 2

Well, after watching 13 games in a very short time, it was surprising to find that I missed watching the 67s at the Civic Centre. This is a nice arena to watch hockey in.

I was kind of prepared to see a slower pace of hockey after seeing the best players from 10 countries play at the World Junior Hockey Tournament but I was wrong. The 67s played a pretty solid game. Fast, physical and his-scoring. A good game to kick off the weekend.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Couture, Nesbitt,
Nigro, Martindale, Toffoli
Lindsay, Kiriakou, Carnevale
Sonnenburg, Anderson, Blunden

Demers, Gibbons,
Birkhoff, Paryzek
Hartwick, Zanetti

Goal: Courchaine

Scratches: Schinkelshoek, Hanes, Cuma

The Ottawa 67s organization is great in recognizing players who do well. As they have done in the past, the pre-game ceremonies involved acknowledging the many players there that had played in a number of international tournaments.

From the Ottawa 67s it was Tyler Toffoli (Gold Medal Team Ontario U17 Challenge) and Marin Paryzek (Team Czech Republic WJHC). From the Niagara IceDogs it was Head Coach Mario Cicchillo (Head Coach Team Ontario U17) Marco Insam (Team Italy - Division I IIHF U20 Tournament), Mark Visentin (Team Ontario U17) and Alex Pietrangelo (Gold Medal Team Canada WJHC in Ottawa!!!).

Coach Brian Kilrea was part of the ceremony and looked really pleased to be involved. He said something, I imagine congratulatory, to each person.

Well done 67s!

Ottawa started the game with energy and intent on playing very physical and they carried the play for the first half of the first period. Niagara finally got their legs in the middle of the frame and started getting shots through to Courchaine (although not great scoring chances).

Ottawa finally got on the board with two quick ones at the end of the period. Travis Gibbons scored his third goal of the year (and first as a 67s) picking up a rebound in a goal-mouth scramble. Thomas Nesbitt and Logan Couture assisted. Then, less than a minute later and on the very next shot on goal, Ryan Martindale scored his first of the game with a wrist shot that fooled Jeremy Smith. Tyler Toffoli and Anthony Nigro were his helpers.

Then it was the tale of the power play. Ottawa went an impressive 4 - 5 for the night starting with Thomas Nesbitt notching his 11th goal of the season as Ottawa started the second period with a 1:25 PP carry over from the end of the first. Then it was Ryan Martindale scoring just 23 seconds into the next PP. Thomas Nesbitt tied the club record for the fastest goal to start a period with his second goal of the game, on another PP carried forward between periods beating Jeremy Smith just 7 seconds into the third period. A goal from Corey Cowick (who now is tied with John Tavares for goals in the OHL!) rounded out the scoring for the 67s. Assists on those four goals went to: Logan Couture (2), Julien Demers (2), Tyler Toffoli (2 for the night), Anthony Nigro (2 for the night) and Brian Birkhoff

Patrick Lee and Andrew Agozzino scored for Niagara.

Ottawa opened the three-game weekend with a win: 6 - 0, SOGs 37 - 28 in Ottawa's favour.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67s as selected by the Team1200: Anthony Zanetti

Random Thoughts:
  • Ottawa put in a solid team effort. Not a full 60 minutes mind you; there were reasonably long periods where Niagara carried the play. But for most of the game it was all Ottawa. The puck possession in the third period was impressive.
  • It looked like Killer rolled 4 lines pretty much all game.
  • With Cuma and Hanes still recovering from their injuries, Hartwick and Birkhoff are making the most of their opportunities.
  • Zanetti was really throwing his weight around. If it moved, he hit it.
  • Looks like Courchaine has hit his stride. Think he has had something like 7 or 8 straight wins.
  • The 67s didn't make any trades with the deadline having come and gone. Some teams, most notably London, made some big moves to get ready for the final half of the season. There may be some room to contend in the Eastern Conference but most folks pretty much agree that the OHL final will likely include one of Windsor or London with the Western Conference team likely taking the championship. It doesn't make sense for Ottawa to make any dramatic changes that would compromise the team that we will have next year. I will be happy with a good, well-played, reasonably deep play-off run.

More pictures:

Anthony Nigro is averaging more than a point a game since joining the 67s

Niagara captain Alex Pietrangelo having a quite word with his goalie at the start of the second period

January 08, 2009

Any Budding Sports Photographers Out There?

If so, I'd like recommend a terrific workshop to help you improve your skills.

I took Harry's workshop last season and it was inspiring, informative and fun. Hopefully the results are evident in the pictures you see here.

In addition to being a generous, knowledgeable photographer, Harry is very encouraging and we have had several post-workshop discussions that helped me quite a bit.

I have met other photographers who have worked with Harry in different workshops and all give him rave reviews.

Consider investing in your photography skills and take in a hockey game at the same time.

You won't regret it.

2009 Canadian AHL All-Star team announced

A few familiar names grace the Canadian roster of the AHL All Star game. Former Ottawa 67s Mark Mancari and Corey Locke are on the roster. Also, former 67s defenseman Derek Joslin and the-local-guy-who-slipped-through-the-OHL Claude Giroux were named as starters.

The announcement from the AHL is here.

Congratulations gentlemen for the well-deserved recognition.

January 07, 2009

WJHC - Gold for Canada and Final Thoughts

Mission Accomplished!!! And in fine fashion too. Team Canada definitely left their best for last - coming together as a team in ways we had not seen previously in this tournament.

I knew we were on the right path once the Swedes had 15 shots on goal without a goal. Getting through the 4 penalties in the second sealed it. It was just a formality after that.

Sorry for the late post - it was back to work for me yesterday and I needed some time to recover.

As usual, we watched both games of the double-header. The bronze medal game between Russia and Slovakia was not much of a spirited affair. Jaroslav Janus did his best but the efficient Russians were too much. The Russians clearly weren't enthusiastic about playing for bronze and I can't blame them considering they were a mere 5.4 seconds from playing for gold. They were gracious in their win and acknowledged their most ardent fans that were concentrated in a corner of the arena.

Then it was on to the main event. There were a lot of fans for the bronze game with the numbers building steadily as the game went on. Fans were decked out in their jerseys, helmets, flags and other regalia to show their support for Team Canada. For our part, we managed to take the paper Samsung helmets and turn them into antlers (pictures later when I get them from my sister-in-law). Pretty Canadian, eh? We got many positive comments but could not convince the Islander scouts in front of us to wear them.

The energy in the building was incredible. From the beginning of the warm-up to the end of the ceremony, the fans were clear in their support. I cannot imagine what it would be like to a bunch of 18 - 20 year old Swedish players on the ice listening to the better part of 20,000 crazed fans yelling and cheering. It had to get in their heads.

The goalie was irritated right from the get-go with the early goal scored during the scrum in the blue paint. I think it threw him off his game and the rest of the team picked up on the frustration. I was surprised how chippy and edgy they played. I thought that the refs went easy on the Swedes; Hedman especially should have been thrown out for punching Esposito.

The Canadians played really well and the Swedes had no response. And as time wound down, the fans counted down with the clock and cheered the successful drive for five while the red and white tickers floated from the ceiling.

Suddenly it's over.

Final Thoughts:
  • It was a fantastic experience both as a fan and as a volunteer. Yes there some really lopsided games but it was still good to see the best teams that 10 countries could bring to Ottawa. I ended up going to 13 games while Ken made it to 15. We were able to give away or sell the rest of the tickets. Probably ended up spending more than I needed to but it was also good to count on having the same good seats throughout the tournament.
  • Witnessing Canada win a gold medal in Canada was outstanding. It was great to be part of that piece of history with about 20,000 of my best friends. Scotia Bank Place will not see the likes of it for a looooong time, if ever. I nearly went hoarse from my share of the yelling.
  • As good as it was to be there for the gold medal, it still was not as exciting and heart-stopping as the game against Russia. I will not witness anything like that in my life again.
  • Section 209 at SBP is a great place to watch hockey....unless you are a non-smoker. The smoking section is just outside the section and a very strong smoke smell invaded the area at each intermission. On the very cold days it was very very cold at our seats as the wind blew the doors open (I thought that doors had to open to the outside).
  • It really is a small world. My volunteer gig was with the Team Canada families so I had the chance to chat with many of the parents. Turns out that Tyler Ennis' dad went to the same small high school in Edmonton that I went to (a few years later than me). For the Russia game, the guys in front of us had come down from Sudbury for the game. When the Subbans were shown on the jumbotron, one of the guys mentioned that he played basketball with Carl Subban in high school in Sudbury. And another Team Canada dad explained how his family is closely tied into the family of one of the 67s. Small indeed.
  • It was lot of hockey in a short period and I thought I would have had enough. But I'm looking forward to getting back to watching the 67s at the Civic Centre. It's a fun team playing in a great arena with character and intimacy. I prefer watching games there than at the SBP.

So now it's back to the OHL where team mates are now opponents (Subban and JT). The next big event is the trade deadline this Friday.

See see you at the Civic Centre on Friday when the Niagara IceDogs and Alex Pietrangelo roll into town.

January 04, 2009

WJHC - Semi Finals: Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to my sweet babu and Ryan Ellis.

And what a birthday it was.

We were at SBP for the semi-final double header and saw some good hockey and some heart-stopping exciting hockey.

The first game was the Sweden - Slovakia game. Again, we did our guess the spread thing before the game with everyone presuming that it will be Sweden but some large number. Well, Slovakia got on the board first and kept the game pretty tight until the third period when Sweden took over after being down a goal twice in the game. Jaroslav Janus' luck just ran out.

An enthusiastic Swedish fan

It was a good game to watch given the plucky play of the Slovaks but it was downright pedestrian when compared to the Canada - Russia game!!

This one was more exciting from a fan perspective than the Canada - USA game on New Year's Eve. The Russians are fast, skilled and persistent. Did I mention fast? Man they are fast. This see-saw battle had the nearly 20,000 fans of both teams on the edge of their seats for the whole game.

And talk about enthusiastic fans!! Hard to believe but I think this crowd was louder than when the Sens went on their Stanley Cup run (nearly a million years ago it seems).

I thought the Canadians were done when the Russians finally went ahead late in the game. It would be interesting to see some official stats but pulling the goalie, while a good move, generally does not produce results. But this time it worked!! Once again, young Ryan Ellis shows why Quinn made room for him on this roster when he kept the puck in, giving Tavares a chance to win the battle of the boards and throw it to the net. Eberle scored the high-light reel goal and tied it up with just over 5 seconds left in the game. The arena went wild!! Nikita Klyukin will probably see that missed EN every time he closes his eyes for a very long time.

10 minutes of fast paced, 4-on-4 overtime where Canada picked up its game and played better but still could not score. Then it was to the shoot-out which most fans agree is a lousy way to finish a good (or bad) hockey game. Especially one that matters as much as this one did.

Every time I watch a shoot-out I remember what Patrick Roy said to his goalie during his team's Memorial Cup run a few years back. His goalie was struggling and Roy took the boy's head between his hands, looked him in the eye and said "you are a wall" (in French of course). The kid was lights-out from there on. So, when the opposition is moving in on my goalie, I am sending "you are a wall" messages to my goalie while Ken is sending his best "ooga-booga" curse on the shooter. Clearly the results show how powerful we are.

High-fives, hollering, whistling, screaming, jumping, hugs and more hollering. What an ending! From a certain loss to winning the skills contest. They pulled it out of the fire.

An enthusiastic fan from up North

In other hockey news, the Ottawa 67s won their 7th game in a row (without Toffoli, Cuma and Paryzek). And the Sudbury Wolves have traded for troubled child Akim Aliu. If he keeps it together and the rumour of Filitov being sent to Sudbury is true, the Wolves will be a stronger team for sure.

Oh, and the Sens lost. Again. To Toronto. Woo Hoo!! They are quickly becoming the best at losing and are in the lottery!! That should be their goal for the rest of the season. The least they can do is lose bad enough to get a good pick.

Welcome to Hockey Country! Not for weak hearts.

January 03, 2009

WJHC - Quarter Finals: Who'da thunk it?

The early game had Team USA playing Team Slovakia. Before each game, the four of us pick a winner and the spread. We all assumed USA would take the game - it was just a matter of by how much. I picked 5, Rose Ann said 7, Wade 4 (I think), and I can't remember what the spousal unit (Ken) picked .

Don't take our investment advice either.

Jaroslav Janus served notice early that he was on top of his game. Again, I won't try to cover the game as anyone with access to TSN or a major newspaper will provide all the gory details.

To me it looked like Team USA underestimated the Slovaks and were unable to adapt or change gears when the world did not unfold as they had predicted. Sure, Janus had the hot hand AND the incredible puck-luck but it didn't look like the Americans made any adjustments. They looked pretty flat for the most part. A goalie change might have charged them up. Every great, unbelievable save by Janus just seemed to deflate them a bit more. Schroeder's anemic penalty shot was less than inspiring. He was so slow, I could have stopped the darn thing.

Rolston pulled McCollum with over 2 minutes to go in the third. They had a face-off down in the Slovaks' end but the Slovaks were winning their share of face offs so waiting for possession might have been more prudent. But perhaps Rolston was thinking, "no guts, no glory". It lead to an EN that pretty much sealed the deal even though they got it back with a very late goal from vanRiemsdyk.

From what I could tell, Team USA gave the media a pass at the end of the game. I have not seen one word in the print media or on TV. They looked like they were hoping the ice would just swallow them up.

The Slovakian celebration was great to watch. Arms draped over each others shoulders (including team management on the bench) you could hear the young men singing their national anthem as their flag was raised in honour of their win. Then the huddle at centre ice to celebrate their astonishing upset.

Team USA now plays Team Czech Republic for 5th spot. 5th spot. Who'da thunk it? There will be the usual navel gazing after this performance. The Americans have 8 players from the CHL (including 3 from Memorial Cup winning Spokane Chiefs). The rest of the roster (14) comes from NCAA teams. Maybe the jump from NCAA-level hockey to World Junior hockey is too much.

The second game of this double header was the Russia - Czech Republic. I said it would be a 1-goal game, Ken said 3, Rose Ann - 5 and Wade said it would go to a shoot-out but he didn't say who would win.

It seemed that the puck-luck gods were on Russia's side for this game as their goalie stopped some sure goals and dodged a few bullets as well. The Russians started strong and were outshooting the Czechs by a good margin for a while but the Czechs never gave up and it was a close game until the third period when Russia started pumping in the goals. The back-breaker was the 5-on-3 short-handed goal scored by Grachev. That guy can cover a lot of ice with those long legs.

It was interesting to see two European teams play a European game (although we had seen the Russia - Sweden game, Russia was not really into that game). I can't quite put my finger on the difference. It was fast, open, some hits (not many), and entertaining. Also, with the penalties for fighting so punitive:
a) A player who intentionally takes off his glove/s in a fight or altercation shall be assessed a:
➤Misconduct penalty (10’)
b) A player who starts fisticuffs shall be assessed a:
➤Match penalty (MP)

you don't see any fights. You will see the usual scrums but the linesmen are quick to step in and I didn't see a glove hit the ice in any of these scrums all tournament so far. Can't say that I miss the fighting nor that the absence of fighting made the game any less entertaining when played by well-matched opponents. When viewed through the lens of the tragic death of Don Sanderson, it may be time to revisit my blood lust. I hate boxing (where the whole intent of the sport is to pound the opponent into oblivion) so why should fighting in hockey be considered part of the game. Food for thought.

I chatted briefly about the Canada - USA game with a scout. According to the rules, the goal by Boychuk should have been disallowed and everyone should have been returned to the penalty boxes.
➤1. If a player illegally enters the game from his own player’s bench or from the penalty bench by his own error or the error of the Penalty Bench Attendant, any goal scored by his own team shall be disallowed, while he is illegally on the ice, but all penalties imposed to both teams shall be served.
➤2. If the player leaves the penalty bench because of an error of the Penalty Bench Attendant, he shall not be penalized but shall serve the remaining amount of time of his penalty when he re-entered the game.
➤3. The Penalty Bench Attendant shall note the time and advise the Referee at the first stoppage of play.
When the American coach protested, the referee should have stopped everything, gone to the scorekeeper's desk and sorted the whole thing out. When I mentioned this to the scout, he suggested that the international officials were too intimidated by the Canadian crowd. They are not used to this level of fan enthusiasm. I find it hard to believe but on the other hand, the officiating was pretty erratic. Maybe they were nervous in front of this crowd.

If this had happened to Canada, you can bet it would have been treated like an international incident and our heads of mission would have been temporarily recalled "for meetings" in protest.

Today's double header: the semi finals with Team Sweden taking on Team Slovakia and Team Canada meeting Team Russia. Not making any predictions this time.

Welcome to hockey country!! Now it gets interesting.