March 12, 2011

Tough Loss But Character Play by the 67's

It was a tough loss in the Rona Center last night as the injury riddled Ottawa 67's battled hard against the Niagara IceDogs, outplaying them for most of the game. Already missing starting goaltender Petr Mrazek, veteran defensemen Marc Anthony Zanetti and Julian Luciani and hard-nosed Jon Carnevale, in-game injuries to Shane Prince, Cody Lindsay and Thomas Nesbitt slowly depleted the on-ice available talent. And kept trainer Neil Hoch pretty busy too.

The team played hard but with just 5.5 seconds left in the OT period (and a penalty kill), Ryan Strome sniped the game winning goal and notched his 101st point of the season.

Click here for the game sheet.

There is certainly no love lost between these two teams and this game was no different.

Both teams came out fast, physical, and in a playoff mood. Both teams limited their opponent's scoring chances with the opening goal coming off only the 5th shot, in total.

During Ottawa's first PP of the game, Tim Billingsley lined Shane Prince up as he came across the blue line and drilled his forearm into Shane's head. Shane did not have possession of the puck and Billingsley was not going for the puck. The rink was stone silent as Shane lay on the ice with both trainers attending to him until he managed to leave the ice with assistance. It was later reported that he required repairs to both the back of his head and to his face. Since he fell backwards from the hit, the facial injuries must have been the result of contact to the head from the hit. No penalty on the hit.

Jake Cardwell stepped up to mete out the justice that the referees seemed disinclined to do. The officials gave him 2, 5 and 10 for his efforts, but everyone else gave him their respect.

While on the ensuing 4-on-4, Alex Friesen put the IceDogs on the score sheet with a short-angle shot that squeezed between Campbell and the post.

The 67's were not rattled by the injury to their team mate or the goal as they came right back hard on the puck in the Niagara zone. Taking advantage of the strong cycling and possession work, Sean Monahan sniped the puck over the glove of Visentin to tie it up.

Shortly thereafter, Cody Lindsay took a puck in the face and left the game for good. It was later reported that a jaw injury was suspected. So with the game tied at two in the first period, Ottawa was down to 9 forwards and missing 2 of its top-6 forwards.

The speed, intensity and physicality picked up as the period continued and both teams had their scoring chances but neither team could finish.

The second period was a bit tamer and was scoreless. Perhaps the coaches told their teams to settle down. It certainly was not because the officials set the tone. Ottawa carried the play, outshooting the Dogs 20 - 8, but they were unable to solve Visentin.

Ottawa continued pressing in the third, getting two goals called back. Jake Cardwell's goal was called off apparently because the ref thought Graovac interfered with Visentin. I guess the ref didn't think that Gronvaldt's involvement mattered.

The second was on a very fast whistle when the ref found himself on the other side of the action and the puck out of his sight while it remained in play.

You had to think that they would eventually get one that the refs could not call back and Captain Thomas Nesbitt delivered by snapping a shot from the slot past Visintin. Sean Monahan and Cody Ceci with the assists.

Ryan Strome got it back with 8 seconds left on the power play as his shot from the face off circle squeaked through Shayne Campbell for his 100th point of the season.

Ottawa had one last power play of the game when Myles Doan kneed Thomas Nesbitt. Ottawa was not able to get anything going and regular play ended in a tie. He didn't return to the game.

So Ottawa went into OT now down 3 of their top-6 forwards. This certainly was a war of attrition.

With 51 seconds left in OT, Cody Ceci was called for tripping.

Marty Williamson must have seen something as he called a time out with 35 seconds left in the game and a face off coming up in the Ottawa zone. Niagara won the face off and Ottawa had a chance but was unable to clear the puck all the way down the ice. Niagara re-entered zone and Strome fired the puck upstairs for the PPG goal with 5.5 seconds left in the game.

It took a full strength IceDogs team all they had right down to the wire to defeat a seriously depleted Ottawa 67's.

Three Stars as selected by the Team1200 (second star Visentin did not take a turn)

Hardest Working 67's
Hardest Working 67's as selected by the Team1200: Travis Gibbons

Random Thoughts:
  • Cannot say enough about how the team stepped up in face of all the challenges that were set before them. Strong defensive play from everyone, players stepping up in defense of their team mates, taking the hits, giving the hits. A great team effort that may not have been rewarded with two points but certainly rewarding as a team effort. There was no room for passengers and there certainly weren't any.
  • Matt Cooke, er, I mean, Tim Billingsley, is a menace. In December 2007 he delivered an open ice hit on Logan Couture that resulted in a concussion. And last night he delivered an open ice hit on Shane Prince. I would be surprised if it does not result in a concussion. With all the recent attention in the NHL to head injuries, including discussions about the OHL's intolerance for hits to the head, I wonder if Dave Branch will review this incident for supplementary discipline. With reported injuries to Prince's face, it would be hard to argue that there wasn't significant contact with the head. Prince did not have possession so the hit was not to separate him from the puck; the hit was to separate Prince from the game.
  • Ottawa needs more consistency on their PP. Lately it swings from being totally powerless to occasionally threatening but not nearly successful as it was earlier in the season. They went 0/6 on the PP.
  • Another house full of scouts again with so many draft prospects on the ice. A good game for them to see some great character at play.
  • Earlier this year, Niagara IceDogs coach Marty Williamson earned himself a 5-game suspension for his comments directed at officials. While it may have cost him a few bucks and some bad press, it may also have had an impact on officials.
  • I understand that officials get at least a video review for each game. Should be a feedback-rich session for this game. Among other things, the refs were particularly disinterested in making use of the video review. 'nuf said.
More Pictures:
Sean Monahan's unassisted goal
The second goal that was waived off - the ref in the upper left corner has the whistle to his mouth. Puck is still in play but he had whistled it dead. Click here to see more pictures from the game.


icedogs3 said...

Wow if Prince kept his head up instead of cutting in the middle of the ice with it down he would't have been hit like that. He should be lucky Billingsley didn't come up with the elbow. To the person who made the comparision to Cooke give me a break clean hit. As I recall nobody was complaining last year when one of the 67's ran Aggozzino from behind in the playoffs or when Cowick kicked the puck in the net in game 5 last year. As far as the depleted lineup I remember a game this year when Niagara was missing some key guys including Visenten and still won. So please save the excuses if the roles were reversed everybody would be ssaying that Ottawa beat Niagara and little mention would be given to injured players. As well as if that was an Ottawa player who hit a Niagara guy they would have called it the hit of the year, but since it was the other way around it was dirty

Valerie said...

Lemiuex defends having Cooke on his roster and Snow defends Gillies. And there will be those who disagree. But you lost your credibility with the 5 kicked-in goals. For the record, I would not have liked that hit if it had been a 67's laying it on another player like that.

Ken Dryden has a great article in the Globe and Mail today: http://tinyurl.com/6g6vcgl

How can we be so stupid as to validate doing this kind of damage on anyone in the name of entertainment?

msconduct said...

@icedogs3 re-look at the OHL rulebook (it's right on the OHL's official site, any hit to the head deserves a 2 minute penalty. It was shoulder to head. I didn't think it was necessarily dirty, but it was a headshot, it was illegal, plain and simple (in OHL terms).

You can say Ottawa fans would think opposite, but you just stuck your foot in your mouth making excuses from previous games.

Doan's knee-on-knee on Nesbitt was the disgusting play of the game. If anything, he should be gone for 2+ games.