February 26, 2012

67's Become East Divison Champs, but lose to CHL's Best

The Ottawa 67’s didn’t help their own cause on Sunday, losing 5-2 to the CHL’s best London Knights. Luckily for Ottawa, a Belleville loss in Peterborough guarantees that the 67’s will win the East Division. It may be a nice sigh of relief to clinch the division three weeks earlier than they did last year, but at the same time, today’s game has to be a wakeup call for the Barberpoles.

Less than three minutes into the first period, London’s Tommy Hughes scored the second goal of his OHL career on an innocent-looking shot from the neutral zone, the first shot of the game on Petr Mrazek. Ottawa carried the physical play throughout the first period after the deflating goal, but before the opening frame was done, the Knights got another marker from an unexpected contributer. Knights Captain Jarred Tinordi opened up a two-goal lead with his third career goal.

The second period saw more of the same domination from the visiting side. Josh Anderson beat Mrazek from the hashmarks and Jared Knight stretched the lead to 4-0 on a goalmouth scramble. Michael Houser’s shutout bid was ruined at 16:56 of the second as Tyler Toffoli improved on his league lead, scoring his 46th goal and 90th point of the season to get Ottawa on the board.

Shane Prince cut the lead in half and extended his amazing streak to 20 straight games with a point, splitting the London defence and placing in a backhander. But when it seemed Ottawa finally had some life, deadline acquisition Greg McKegg put home a rebound, putting the game away in the process for the away squad.

Houser improved on his league lead, stopping 39 shots to lock up his OHL-best 42nd win of the season. Mrazek recovered nicely from his rough first period but still took the loss, making 21 saves.

The out-of-town scoreboard wasn’t announced to the near sellout crowd at the J. Benson Cartage Centre, but the OHL scores had their share of good and bad news. In Peterborough, the Petes edged the Belleville Bulls, meaning the 67’s become the first team this season to clinch their division. Unfortunately for Ottawa, they didn’t get any help from the other division rival in action today. The Kingston Frontenacs were blown out 9-3 by the Niagara Ice Dogs, moving Niagara ahead of Ottawa and into sole possession of first in the Eastern Conference.

The 67’s (36-16-5-2) now head out on the road. Ottawa starts the final month of the season by heading on a road trip to the Western Conference, playing in Sarnia on Friday, taking on London in a re-match on Saturday and completing the away stand in Guelph a week from today. They finish their road swing with a Wednesday night game against the Frontenacs.

Click here to see the game sheet.

No Three Stars slide show - the London players chose not to grace the ice when announced. Seems pointless to do it just for Tyler Toffoli (second star).

No picture for Mike Cajkovsky as the Hardest Working 67's. He's hard to catch in a photograph.

As for Random Thoughts from behind the lens, summarized in a major sigh. The London Knights seemed to play more like a team than the 67's. If this was a measuring stick, the 67's have some room to improve.

Some pictures from the game:

Honouring first responders today:  Police, Paramedics and Fire with MNBA as the game-day sponsors.
First Responders were honoured today.

I think Ottawa's 3rd line is my favourite line.

Toffoli has been rounding out his game this year - throwing the body more than I recall in past years.
More physical play from Toffoli than I recall from previous years.

Click here to see more pictures from the game.

1 comment:

Alex Quevillon said...

I didn't really say much from an opinionated standpoint so I'll say it here - the third line has to be the favourite line, it's the only line that stayed together for the entire game. Prince started with Giftopoulos and Cazzola and by the 7-minute mark of the second, had played a shift with every single other forward on the team. There's nearly a month to go. Let the guys build chemistry, there's no need at all to split lines up every five minutes. Between that and the first goal, it's almost hard to blame the forwards for not playing as well as a team in comparison to the Knights. At least they almost came back.