January 29, 2012

'Nail' In The Coffin; 67's Slow Down Yakupov in 5-2 Win

Former 67 Logan Couture, joined by another familiar face in Brian Campbell, watched a trio of his old teammates help beat the Sarnia Sting 5-2 on Friday night in a nationally broadcasted game. Expected to go first overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Nail Yakupov made his return to the Sarnia lineup from injury and had the spotlight on him all game.

While the Russian star forward did have one goal, Ottawa did a good job getting him off his game for most of the night. He seemed pre-occupied going after with Marc-Anthony Zanetti for the first two periods.

Taylor Fielding went end-to-end early in the second period and beat Sarnia's JP Anderson blocker side to put Ottawa on the board, and Couture's 2008-09 teammate Tyler Toffoli gave Ottawa a two-goal advantage with a similar goal on Anderson's glove side.

After a chippy start to the game, it appeared as though things would boil over when Ryan Van Stralen dropped the gloves with Justice Dundas. Jake Cardwell and ex-67 Julian Luciani had a shoving match with one another during the fight, but nothing else came of it.

Ottawa native Ryan Spooner got his team on the board, putting a wrist shot past Petr Mrazek on a 2-on-1. Spooner, one of Sarnia’s prized acquisitions at the trade deadline, helped set up a back-and-forth final period.

Another highly touted 2012 draft eligible, Cody Ceci, scored on the powerplay to give Ottawa a 3-1 lead, but it was a Ceci giveaway just minutes later that lead to Yakupov’s breakaway and subsequent five-hole goal on Mrazek.

A pair of goals, however, would put the game away in Ottawa’s favour. Shane Prince walked in across the line and picked the top corner on Anderson and Mike Cazzola finished the scoring with his seventh of the season into the empty net.

Mrazek finished the night with 40 saves and as he’s done a couple of times in his Junior career, made an attempt at the empty net before Cazzola’s marker. Mrazek’s shot went way wide, but it’s the effort that counts on an attempt like that.

Ottawa (30-11-4-1) is currently in action in Barrie and will head to Owen Sound to finish their three-game weekend on Sunday. They open up a four-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference with the win.

The game sheet can be found here.

Three Stars as Selected by the Team1200

Hardest working 67's, for the third straight game:  Taylor Fielding

Hardest Working 67's: Taylor Fielding (for the third game in a row)

Random Thoughts from behind the lens:
  • Sorry for the late post - my fault.
  • I always wonder if you can tell how a team will play by watching the warm-up. After much informal observation and study my conclusion is....no. Sarnia had a very up-tempo energetic warm-up in comparison with the 67's but both teams played with a lot of energy.
  • It took a while for the 67's to get their game going but after their first penalty kill, one in which the Sting didn't even register a shot on goal, they got their skates going and played fast and hard.
  • This was a physical affair, with lots of hits, one scrap and a fair number of near-scraps. And lots of chirping - lots and lots of it. No love lost here.
  • It was great that NHL All Stars and former Ottawa 67's captains Logan Couture and Brian Campbell took the time to visit their old junior team. Here's a great article on Logan's rise through the hockey ranks.
  • With the NHL All Star festivities in Ottawa this weekend (and it's been seriously fun - take in Fan Fair if you have the time), many took time to check out the game and one or two chatted with the coaches.
  • Speaking of the All Star event, good crowd at the 67's game in spite of the competition and in spite of some nasty weather.....this is truly Hockey Country!
  • Here's an update on former Ottawa 67's Ryan Martindale who is playing in the Edmonton Oilers' system. He's doing well.
Some pictures from the game:
Former Ottawa 67's captains and current NHL All Stars Logan Couture and Brian Campbell drop the puck.  
Former Ottawa 67's captains and current NHL All Stars Logan Couture and Brian Campbell drop the puck for the game.
  Daniel Broussard was back in action after missing 8 games.  
Daniel Broussard returned to the line up after an 8-game absence.
  Many enthusiastic fans for the game.  
Two of the very many enthusiastic fans for the game.

Click here to see more pictures from the game.

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