March 30, 2010

Playoff Series Setup - Round 2 v Mississauga

There's only one game left to play in the first round: Kingston and Brampton play game 7 tonight to determine who gets the privilege of taking on the Barrie Colts.

Meanwhile, the other Eastern Conference bracket was finalized on Sunday with Ottawas 5-1 win over the Niagara IceDogs.

The St. Mikes Majors won all four games against the 67's this season including a couple of blow-out shut-outs. Three of the four games were played in the span of about a month (December 6 - January 3) and all the games were played before the trade deadline, before Shane Prince was acquired and before Corey Cowick returned to the lineup. Mississauga was quiet leading up to and at the trade deadline.

The difference in this series will likely be the D and goalkeeping. The St. Mike's goalies see less rubber and keep more pucks out of their nets than the 67's goalies.

Here are a bunch of head to head stats for your own review - you be the armchair coach.

Team RecordsOttawa 67'sSt. Mike's Majors
Before Trade Deadline21-17-4-228-8-4-1
After Trade Deadline16-6-1-114-12-0-1

Head to Head - Playoffs
Ottawa 67'sHead to HeadSt. Mike's Majors
4-1-0-0 8 pointsRecord4-0-0-0 8 points
2nd EasternConference - Rank3rd Eastern
21 GF14
14 GA6
(4/22) 18.2PP% (rank)(3/22) 13.6
(4/25) 84.0PK% (rank)(1/19) 94.7

Top Guns
Ottawa 67'sSt. Mike's Majors
Toffoli (5-2-7)Smith-Pelly (4-1-5)
Cowick (5-1-6)Ekelman (3-1-4)
Nigro (3-2-5)Cizikas (1-3-4)
Lindsay (0-5-5)Mayer (2-1-3)
Nesbitt (3-1-4)Parlett (1-2-3)

Head to Head - Regular Season
Ottawa 67'sHead to HeadSt. Mike's Majors
37-23-5-3 82 pointsRecord42-20-4-2 90 points
2nd EasternConference - Rank3rd Eastern
246 GF222
219 GA175
(54/307) 17.6PP% (rank)(68/344) 19.8
(64/293) 78.2PK% (rank)(66/341) 80.6

Top Guns
Ottawa 67'sSt. Mike's Majors
Lindsay (39-43-82)Smith-Pelly (29-33-62)
Toffoli (37-42-79)Cizikas (25-37-62)
Nigro (16-46-62)Mayer (31-19-50)
Martindale (19-41-60)Parlett (11-35-46)
Nesbitt (33-24-57)Wallen (14-27-41)

The Goalie Regular Season Stats:
Chris Carrozzi3720899798252.360.916191032
JP Anderson3620288758822.60.899231010
Petr Mrazek30156282278330.90512901
Chris Perugini462560137513143.070.905251452

The Goalie Playoff Stats:
Petr Mrazek28744201.380.95511
Chris Carrozzi4240107611.50.94440
Chris Perugini42181151203.310.89630

March 29, 2010

Central Scouting Working on Its Final List

Central Scouting is working on its final list and Mike G. Morreale (staff writer for NHL.com) is following the process on his blog. The latest post (today) shows who the raters consider to be the top-10 players from each league that is considered in the rankings. Ryan Martindale and Tyler Toffoli have been identified as among the top-10 players in the OHL.

Congrats gentlemen - the hard work is paying off!

Cowick's 4 Goal-Game Leads the 67's to the Series Win

It was a statement game at Scotia Bank Place by Corey Cowick and the statement had as much to say about his desire to get a spot in the Senators' locker room as it did about his leadership on the 67's. His 4 goals led the 67's in their 5 - 1 win over the IceDogs to win the first round playoff series.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Nigro, Merrett (starters)
Smith, Lindsay, Toffoli
Prince, Martindale, Carnevale
Janes, Graovac, Foglia

Zanetti, Cuma
Demers, Gibbons (starters)
Hartwick, Ceci

Goal: Mrazek

Scratches: Anderson, Hanes

The 67's had their bags packed just in case they had get on the bus for game 6 in Niagara on Monday and they really didn't want to make that trip. So after a couple of good scoring chances by the 67's, Tyler Toffoli put the 67's on the scoreboard 5 minutes into the game taking a beautiful cross-ice pass from Travis Gibbons and putting it into the open net. Cody Lindsay had the second assist. The teams were playing 4-on-4 due to penalties handed out to Foglia and Theoret. Foglia got 2 minor penalties and Theoret got 2 for instigating and 5 for fighting (and a game) so once the Foglia penalties were over, Ottawa was on the PP for 3 minutes.

And that's when the Cowick scoring machine got primed.

With 1:05 left in the PP, Tyler Cuma's shot from faceoff circle went in off Corey Cowick's skate. Anthony Nigro got the second assist for the pass from the half-wall to Cuma. Visentin tried to make a case for the puck being kicked in but the ref didn't give it a second thought.

Corey's first and eventual GWG

Ottawa was up two before the game was 10 minutes old and they never really looked back. The SOGs at this point were 7 - 1 for Ottawa.

Niagara had some good chances but they either shot wide / high or Mrazek made the save.

After a great start to the second period by the 67's with lots of puck control and shots at the net (not too many on the net), IceDog import overager Marco Insam's shot from the faceoff circle beat Mrazek short side and made it a one-goal game just 3 and a half minutes in. Were we going to see another second period melt-down? Ottawa's record in the second period was not stellar up to this point.

Niagara started winning more of the one-on-one battles for the puck that resulted in more shots through to Mrazek but he made the saves, more than a few big ones to keep his team in the lead.

To bookend the scoring in the second period, Corey Cowick got his second of game with 3 and a half minutes left when Visentin couldn't quite get his glove on the shot from close in. Andrew Merrett and Travis Gibbons assisted.

All saves are important ones but Petr Mrazek's save with just 2:25 left in the second frame must have taken the wind out of Niagara's sails. Reggie Traccitto drove the net with the puck and passed it to Freddie Hamilton who was coming in fast on the other side. Mrazek anticipated the pass and moved to glove the quick shot from Hamilton from the top of the crease.

Ottawa started the third period on the PK with Cuma and Demers in the penalty box. Ottawa did a good job - no shots got through.

Neither team was showing much intensity early in the third which is not at all what I expected. But the IceDogs started realizing that their season was on the line and they started pressing harder - even on their PKs (they got more shots that Ottawa on one of Ottawa's PPs). But they couldn't make it happen.

Corey Cowick continued his dangerous ways. He had one goal called off due to being hit in by a high stick, he had one EN awarded to him and then he he put the final touch on the win with another EN with just over 30 seconds left in the game. Julien Demers got an assist on the final EN.

And with that convincing win, the 67's finally get out of the first round and now get ready for the Mississauga St. Mikes Majors. The series starts on Thursday with game 2 going on Friday. Hope to see you at the games.

Here's the game sheet.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67 as selected by the Team1200: Andrew Merrett

Random Thoughts:
  • More than a few fans worried about playing this game at SBP. It appears that having Senators prospect Corey Cowick in the line-up was the secret weapon.
  • The game was not as intense as I expected. I thought the IceDogs would have been much more motivated to play hard for the whole game.
  • Nicholas Foglia was stapled to the bench after his boarding incident. His playoff career may be a short one.
  • I still don't think we have seen the best that the 67's can play in this series. They will have to bring it big time against the Majors.
  • From the Jack Gatecliff Arena, the oldest rink in the OHL to an NHL rink - it must have been quite a difference for all the players.
  • Stick taps to Reggie Traccitto, Marco Insam and Josh Moes who have finished their OHL careers. None of them have been picked up in the NHL. Perhaps Marco will return to Italy and play in Europe if he doesn't take advantage of his OHL scholarship.
  • Shock Wave are my number two favourite anthem singers. Lyndon Slewidge holds the number 1 spot and is unlikely to lose it anytime soon.
  • Other photographers had mentioned it but I didn't believe it - the lighting in SBP is not as good as the Urbandale Centre for photography. There's a reason the pictures are kinda soft.

More Pictures:
Nice move by Cowick to get around Johnson Andrews for an early scoring chance

Rookie Mitchell Theoret not pleased with Nicholas Foglia's hit on Andrew Shaw

Celebrating the series win!

A great hockey tradition - I believe the only sport to do this

Loyal IceDogs fans

Happy 67's fans

The final numbers

March 25, 2010

Eastern Conference Coaches Poll

The OHL announced the Eastern Conference Coaches' Poll. See the full announcement here.

Three 67's players were noted in the poll:

Cody Lindsay was second among the three players noted as the most improved player and third best noted for faceoffs.

Tyler Toffoli was noted as the third most dangerous player in the goal area and Thomas Nesbitt was voted the second best defensive forward in the Eastern Conference.

Well done gentlemen - your hard work has been noticed!!

March 21, 2010

A Hat Trick for Nesbitt and Ottawa Takes Game 2!

Nesbitt's hat trick led the 67's to a 3 - 1 win and a 2 - 0 game lead in the series.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Martindale, Nigro
Smith, Lindsay, Toffoli (starters)
Prince, Merrett, Nesbitt
Hanes, Graovac, Carnevale

Zanetti, Cuma
Demers, Gibbons (starters)
Hartwick, Ceci

Goal: Perugini

Scratches: Hanes, Foglia

For the first couple of minutes, neither team got much going but a smart play by Cody Ceci along the boards got Ottawa on the scoreboard first by keeping possession of the puck and getting it to Thomas Nesbitt in front of the net where he beat Visentin for his first OHL playoff goal - ever.

The teams traded a couple more chances including a breakaway by Corey Cowick but the period was otherwise unremarkable..well except for a couple of good saves by the goalies and the post! And Corey Cowick sending a message to Niagara with a big (too big) hit on MacEachern and drilling Schwindt a couple of times in the ensuing fight.
This one went off the post while Ottawa was on the PK.

Once again, both teams put on a couple of cycling clinics although for the most part, they didn't result in too many scoring chances. But Niagara was getting stronger in the second period but it took a series of penalties before they able to solve Perugini. Before that happened, Thomas Nesbitt scored his second goal of the game at about the halfway mark with a shot from the faceoff circle that beat Visentin over the shoulder. Shane Prince got the assist for the setting Thomas up.

With Tyler Toffoli in the penalty box for the last penalty of the game, Dylan MacEachern's shot from the point found its way to the back of the net. And we had a 1-goal game.

The Niagara IceDogs owned the third period as far as offensive possession and getting shots on goal - 16 of them. But Chris frustrated them with some great saves to protect the lead. With 1:25 left in the period, Niagara called a timeout and left Visentin on the bench for the extra attacker. Anthony Nigro worked hard below the goal line to spring the puck up the boards. Thomas Nesbitt worked it free from Freddie Hamilton, skated to the blue line and sealed the win for Ottawa with the EN with 53 seconds left. Niagara pulled Visentin after the faceoff but to no avail.

With a goal in each period, Thomas Nesbitt's hat trick was all the scoring Ottawa needed to take the second game of the series on home ice. They head to St. Catharine's on Monday for games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday.

Here's the game sheet.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67 as selected by the Team1200: Tyler Cuma

Random Thoughts:
  • It's hard to believe that in the 16 previous playoff games that Thomas Nesbitt has played in Ottawa that his goal just 2:31 into today's game was his first playoff point.
  • Anthony Nigro was hurt on the play that lead to Thomas' EN. He was on the ice for a while, made it back to the bench on his own steam but left the game with the trainer at the next whistle. No visible signs of what ailed him from my angle.
  • The refereeing was a tad uneven today. I find it hard to believe that in playoff hockey only one team gets penalized in the second period and there are NO penalties in the third period. There were no penalties called after Niagara's PPG. Hmmmm.
  • Tyler Cuma had a much better game today - very strong defensive plays and great shot-blocking.
  • A lot of scouts at today's game. A very good day for Nesbitt (and others) to show them what he's made of.
  • It wasn't as physical a game as it was on Friday. Guess both teams were focusing on putting goals in the net and keeping them out of their net.

More Pictures:
The game winning goal

Celebrating the GWG

Pretty excited given that he: (1) secured the win; and (2) scored a hat trick

A celebratory hat!

Superfan doing his thing

March 20, 2010

Tyler Toffoli's Late GWG Edges the IceDogs for the 4 - 3 Win

Ottawa started strong, had a bit of a fade in the second but came back to take the first game of the playoff series with a 4 - 3 win over the Niagara IceDogs.

Forward Combos:
Cowick, Martindale, Nigro
Smith, Lindsay, Toffoli (starters)
Prince, Merrett, Nesbitt
Hanes, Graovac, Carnevale

Zanetti, Cuma (starters)
Demers, Gibbons
Hartwick, Ceci

Goal: Perugini

Scratches: Foglia, Janes

Niagara got the first scoring chance right off the jump with a shot that went through the crease. That, and an early penalty against Friesen got the 67's attention and they took over the puck and the ice. Niagara got a few breaks, including a foreshadow of what would come later when Friesen got the puck just as he stepped out of the penalty box and broke in on Perugini. Tyler Cuma was tagged with a tripping call in breaking up the scoring chance.

Anthony Nigro got the first goal of the playoffs with over 7 minutes left in the period when Cody Lindsay intercepted Matt Baldassarra's pass and swept it to a driving Nigro who put it past Visentin. At this point the shots were 10 - 3 for Ottawa.

If the Dogs were dominated in the first, they got their mojo going in the second, scoring 3 goals on their first 6 shots and taking a 3 - 2 lead at one point.

The first goal came with just 8 seconds left in Hartwick's penalty for a check to the head. Perugini ran out of lucky bounces when Josh Moes' shot from the point got by him to tie up the game.

Dalton Smith got it back a minute and a half later when he took a drop pass from Cody Lindsay and snapped it past Visentin from the face-off circle. Tyler Toffoli got the second assist and the 67's were back up by 1.

A minute after that, a defensive miscue by veteran defensmen Cuma and Demers left Agozzino alone in the slot to tip Friesen's shot from the corner past Perugini to tie the game back up.

Then it was Andrew Agozzino who took a pass from Freddie Hamilton just as he jumped out of the penalty box, skated in all alone and snapped it 5-hole to give the IceDogs the lead again on just 6 shots on goal with 6 minutes left in the game. At this point the shots were 24 - 11 in Ottawa's favour.

The 67's visibly sagged at this point but they shook it off with Tyler Toffoli tying it up with just 44 seconds left in the period. It was an odd one that he couldn't even describe in the post-game interview with Jon Abbott. He threw the puck on the net from a sharp angle and somehow it got past Visentin. Perhaps Visentin should be credited with the assist - he may have helped it in.

The 67's looked a bit tentative at the start of the third while the IceDogs started stronger. The tempo picked up with Ottawa getting few good chances. With just 5:08 left in the period, the 67's thought they a goal but it was called off as the whistle had already gone (a bit quickly I might add).

As the time ticked down, you could sense a goal coming up but it could have gone either way. But it went Ottawa's way with 3:21 left in the game when Tyler Toffoli got his second in the game, carrying the puck pretty much the length of the ice, getting his own rebound and getting it in the net, from behind the net as the puck bounced in off Visentin's back. Travis Gibbons and Julien Demers were also involved in this important goal.

The 67's kept strong, including the final 53 seconds while the IceDogs had the extra attacker. Niagara's Matt Petgrave made a spectacular save to prevent the EN but it wasn't enough.

The Ottawa 67's held on to take the important first home game 4 - 3.

Game two takes place on Sunday at 2:00 back at the Urbandale Centre.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67 as selected by the Team1200: Thomas Nesbitt

Here's your game sheet if you like that sort of thing.

Random Thoughts:
  • It was actually a bit of a weird game. It felt strange to me and the spousal unit mentioned the same thing on the way home. Can't put my finger on it but it was just weird. Couldn't really get into it. I think the refs had the same issue.
  • The IceDogs were up for the game. Literally. The bench stood for the whole game.
  • The Dogs really wanted to make the game physical. The 67's were willing participants. Some big hits during the game.
  • Andrew Shaw is a piece of work. And he must have a thing for goalies. During the warm-up he felt compelled to chirp Petr Mrazek who was minding his own business doing his stretches well inside his blueline. Andrews didn't appear to think much of the linesman's comments.

    and sure as shootin' he took liberties with Perugini:

  • Nicholas Foglia has been called up from the Trenton Golden Hawks for the playoffs.
  • Did you know that there are guidelines on what constitutes a shot on goal? I didn't. I thought that any shot on goal that the goalie had to stop to prevent a goal counted as a shot on goal Not so. It has to be a shot that is actually an effort to score a goal. So those rink-long shots on goal in a PK do not normally count. I wondered about that.
  • Noticed that the chin straps were done up for the warm-up and they were snugger during the game. Wonder if the league made some comments about players wearing their equipment properly to maximize their safety. With all the recent focus on head shots and concussions, it only makes sense.

More Pictures:
The game winning goal!

March 19, 2010

Round 1 v Niagara: Game 1 Set-up

Well, it's hard to believe that the regular season is over and we are starting the playoffs tonight. It's deja vu all over again as the 67's meet the Niagara IceDogs. You will recall last year's heartbreaking result.

Here's the regular season head-to-head perspective:

Ottawa 67'sHead to HeadNiagara IceDogs
37-23-5-3 82 pointsRecord26-34-2-6 60 points
2nd EasternRank - Conference 7th Eastern
246 GF191
219 GA233
(54/307) 17.6 (12th)
PP% (rank)(46/326) 14.1 (20th)
(64/293) 78.2 (16th)
PK% (rank)(74/359) 79.4 (13th)

Top Guns
Ottawa 67'sNiagara IceDogs
Lindsay (39-43-82)Agozzino (37-29-66)
Toffoli (37-42-79)Friesen (23-37-60)
Nigro (16-46-62)Hamilton (25-30-55)
Martindale (19-41-60)Traccitto (20-18-38)
Nesbitt (33-24-57)Shaw (11-25-36)

Much has been said about last year's result - 67's looking for redemption, blah blah blah.

That was then and this is now.

The 67s' need to play hard for 60 minutes and the rest will take care of itself. Ottawa can be accused of not bringing it to the last two game except for the odd burst of engagement. Hope they didn't develop a bad habit. They will need much more than that to take full advantage of home ice.

Niagara goalie Mark Visentin played 55 of the 68 regular season games and ended with the 11th best GAA in the league with 2.99 (no shut-outs). Chris Perugini (presumed starter) was 14th with a GAA of 3.07 over 46 games with 4 shut-outs. Looking at the goalies from a save percentage, they stay in the same spots, 11th and 14th respectively with save percentages of .911 and .905 respectively. Some pundits think that tenders will be the difference.

Here's how it's playing down in St. Catharines.

Up front, on paper, the 67's are loaded with firepower. And with more than one line. The Smith, Lindsay, Toffoli line wound up with 205 points this season; Prince, Martindale and Nesbitt (the most recent incarnation of that line) had 147 points and Cowick, Nigro and Merrett had 98. There is some scoring depth when they get going and play hard.

Looking forward to some solid play from the 67's like we know they can do.

See you at the rink tonight!!

March 16, 2010

OHL Hardware for Petr Mrazek!

From the OHL Website:

F.W. “Dinty” Moore Trophy (Best Rookie GAA): Petr Mrazek, Ottawa 67’s

Petr Mrazek of the Ottawa 67’s posted a goals-against-average of 3.00 to lead all rookie netminders in that category while posting a 12-9-0-1 record with three shutouts and a save percentage of .905. In 30 games played, his goals-against-average ranks 12th overall in the league.

Mrazek, an 18-year-old from Vitkovice, Czech Republic, was selected 30th overall by the 67’s in the 2009 CHL Import Draft and is eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

The trophy is named after F.W. “Dinty” Moore of Port Colborne, ON, who served as OHA President from 1942-45. Last season, JP Anderson of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors led all rookie goaltenders with a goals-against-average of 2.94 in 26 games. Mrazek is the first 67’s goaltender to win this award since Levente Szuper won the award in 1998-99, one year following Seamus Kotyk in 1997-98.

View the complete announcement here.

Blahopřání Petr!

(I hope that means congratulations - you can never be sure with these online translator apps.)

March 14, 2010

Nesbitt Pots His Second GWG in as Many Games

For the second straight game Thomas Nesbitt scored the game winning goal; today it was the OT goal for a 3 - 2 win over the Sudbury Wolves.

Forward Combos:

Cowick, Nigro, Merrett
Smith, Lindsay, Toffoli
Prince, Martindale, Nesbitt (starters)
, Graovac, Carnevale,

Zanetti, Cuma
Demers, Hanes
Hartwick, Ceci
Cuma, Ceci (starters)

Goal: Perugini

Scratches: Janes, Gibbons

To reset, the Sudbury Wolves needed the win, combined with a Niagara loss, to move up to 7th place and avoid a first round match-up with the Barrie Colts. That combination of events would make today's game a preview of the first round playoff bracket.

From a Sudbury perspective, it certainly started on the right skate with Eric O'Dell scoring 16 seconds in on the first shot on goal. From my vantage point it looked like a simple shot that just beat Perugini 5-hole.

The Wolves played like they were hungry, controlling the play for the most part and taking the game to Ottawa - such as it was. Ottawa didn't get its first shot on goal until over 6 minutes in and it wasn't until Dalton Smith's fight with Daniel Maggio that the 67's seemed to engage in the game. They finally started getting shots through to Andrew Loverock, and the posts.

Ottawa finally tied it in the second period up after having a possible PP goal overruled as being gloved in. It was Corey Cowick with a shot from the face off circle that beat Loverock blocker side. Ryan Martindale and Julien Demers were the helpers.

As the period went through the final 5 minutes, each team took turns controlling the puck in their offensive zone with strong cycles. First it was Sudbury who moved the puck around at will in the Ottawa zone for what seemed like 2 minutes or more. Finally, it was Ottawa's turn to put on a puck-control clinic and with 2 seconds left in the game, Corey Cowick got it by Loverock for his second goal of the game and 14th of the season. It took another lengthy review but this time it was a good goal. Ryan Martindale assisted on this one too and Anthony Nigro got the second assist.

The third period was another see-saw affair with each team having its strong moments. During the game, the in-arena announcer was updating us on the out of town scores. Remember that Sudbury needed a win here today combined with a Niagara loss to move from 8th spot to 7.

With just under 3 minutes left in the third, Sudbury was doing a good job controlling the play in the Ottawa zone. At a whistle, the announcement came that Mississauga was leading Niagara 2 - 1. This was motivation for Sudbury and sure as shootin' Steve Reese tied it up with just under two minutes left in the period. With their dominant play in the final minutes, it looked like it just might be an Ottawa - Sudbury first round match-up.

At the end of regulation, it was tied at 2 with Sudbury outshooting Ottawa 34 - 30; 10 of which came in the third.

So we were on to overtime. It looked about even between the two teams but Sudbury was getting more shots through. But it was Thomas Nesbitt with just under 3 minute left, driving to the net and burying the puck for his second GWG in as many games. Ryan Martindale assisted on this one too to make it all three goals and Julien Demers had his second assist for the night.

Here's today's game sheet.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67 as selected by the Team1200: Ryan Martindale

Random Thoughts:
  • Thomas Nesbitt is so much fun to watch. He's fast, he's hardworking, and he's good. I hope the scouts are taking notice.
  • It would have been soooo great to see Cody Lindsay get his 40th goal of the regular season. But we will take the win.
  • It's always fun to listen to the kids. During the second 67's PP in the third, when Sudbury got on the attack, a young lady about 8 years old yelled out "Cowick - back check!!". I think she was into the game.
  • So now it's on to the playoffs against the Niagara IceDogs - the team that eliminated Ottawa in the first round last year. The two teams split the 4-game series this year - each team winning one on the road and one at home. The playoffs start on Friday at the Urbandale Centre with game two there on Sunday. I expect to see you there! Nothing like a full house to pump up the team.

More Pictures:

Great play by Zanetti on a streaking McFarland

Former 67's Matias Sointu

The drive that ended it all

Group hug! The regular season is done - let the playoffs begin!