February 19, 2012

Otters Hold Former Teammate At Bay, but lose 6-1 to Ottawa

by Alex Quevillon
For the first time in his OHL career, Mike Cazzola wasn’t able to register a goal during Erie’s annual trip to Ottawa. The former Otters forward, now with the 67’s, had scored in each of his first three games in the Nation’s Capital as a member of the visiting side. He didn’t score today, but he didn’t need to, as Ottawa blew out the overaged center’s old team 6-1 in front of 6,731 fans on Sunday.

The 67’s took over the game midway through the first period, getting three goals in a five-minute span from Nicholas Foglia and the first two goal scorers from yesterday, Cody Ceci and Shane Prince. Just seconds after Prince’s goal, Michal Cajkovsky got the better of Erie forward Johnny MacGuire in a heated scrap. Cajkovsky received an extra 10-minute misconduct on the play.

Ottawa got a couple of scares in the second period. At the seven-minute mark, Taylor Fielding took a hard cross-check while he was on the ice and needed to be helped off the ice. Three minutes later, Erie’s Jake Evans broke in behind Mike Vlajkov and beat Michael Nishi to get the Otters on the board. But the 67’s weren’t about to let another 3-0 second period lead slip away. In the final minute of the middle frame, Dalton Smith, playing in his first game back from injury, scored a strange goal from the side of the net to restore the three-goal advantage.

Tyler Toffoli walked right around the Erie defence, scoring his 44th of the season and sixth in his last five games, a shorthanded marker at 2:15 of the third to put the game away. Besides adding to his goal streak, Toffoli also gave himself an 8-point lead as the OHL’s top scorer. Sudbury’s Michael Sgarbossa, who Ottawa fans remember all too well for his play against Ottawa in the playoffs last year, had four points today to move into a tie for second. He joins Barrie’s Tanner Pearson, who the 67’s will get to see at home next Friday, with 79 points.

The shorthanded marker put an exclamation point on Ottawa's amazing penalty kill. Erie was thwarted on all nine of their powerplays today and never seemed to be a threat to score with the man advantage, icing the puck three times and managing only two shots.

Ryan Van Stralen rounded out the scoring, drawing assists from Cajkovsky and Remy Giftopolous, the second assist of the game for both of them. Van Stralen walked into the slot and fired a wrist-shot past Erie rookie goaltender Devin Williams, who has made 102 saves in his last two starts against the Eastern Conference’s top teams (41 of those today, 61 vs. Niagara). The Otters fall to an OHL-worst 8-42-3-2.

Nishi had to avoid a large puddle in his crease for the first period, but still made 36 stops and was named the game’s first star for the 67’s, who improve to 35-15-5-1 and sit one point behind the Ice Dogs for first in the Eastern Conference. After tomorrow’s Family Day Game in Kingston, Ottawa returns home to take on the Barrie Colts, as mentioned, on Friday night. They finish the weekend by taking on the league’s best, the London Knights.

The game sheet can be found here.

Three Stars as Selected by the TEAM1200

Hardest Working 67's: Mike Cajkovsky (sorry - no "hardest-working-type in-game photos of him)

Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
  • Well, they should have won this one - Erie is currently the worst team in the OHL.
  • Lots of line up changes: Prince and Toffoli centred by Cazzola; the tough line back together (Smith-Graovac-Janes); Monahan centering the 3rd line with Gustavsen and Giftopolous; and Foglia centering Van Stralen and Fielding. Changes in the D-corps too: Ceci and Zanetti split up and paired with Broussard and Callaghan respectively. Experimenting or messages being sent? Maybe a bit of both.
  • Nishi was in net and made some great saves in the second when Erie was getting some quality scoring chances.
  • Erie was actually quite good in the first two periods at picking pockets and intercepting passes. But their PP was seriously without any power: 0/9.
  • The person assigning shots on goal seemed a tad generous at times. Seemed to give more shots to Erie than Ottawa.
Some pictures from the game:

Tyler Toffoli with some glove love for the kids from the West Carleton Hockey League.  
Tyler Toffoli greeting some kids from the West Carleton Hockey League Celebrating Foglia's tip-in goal off a Zanetti shot from the point. Celebrating Foglia's tip-in goal off Zanetti's point shot  
Mike Cazzola playing against his former team Dalton Smith was back in the line up.  
Dalton Smith returned to the line up
Click here to see more pictures.

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