February 12, 2012

Running Over the Bulls, 67's win 9-0

by Alex Quevillon
After losing the top spot in the Eastern Conference for the first time in several months, the Ottawa 67's took a rare three-game losing streak into Sunday's matchup with the Belleville Bulls. Ottawa wouldn't allow themselves to drop a season-record four in a row, however. The Barberpoles received a hattrick from Shane Prince, the first two goals of Sean Callaghan's career and a 35-save shutout performance from Petr Mrazek as they rolled over their division rivals 9-0

With the win, Ottawa does move back into first place; for now. To put this into perspective, the last time the 67's were out of first place, it was back in November when they were jockeying for position and swapping leads with the Mississauga St. Mikes Majors. To illustrate how much has changed since then, the Majors are currently one point out of the playoffs and the Bulls have a couple of games in hand on them, too.

The 67's survived an early flurry of shots and killed off a penalty less than five minutes into the game, an early turning point as the rest of the afternoon was downhill for the Bulls. By the nine minute mark, Prince, Brett Gustavsen and Tyler Toffoli had scored to give Ottawa a 3-0 lead, forcing Belleville's Malcolm Subban out of the net. Marc-Anthony Zanetti netted a powerplay marker past backup Charlie Graham to give the home side a commanding 4-0 lead after one.

The onslaught continued in the second frame. Prince, who scored on Friday after being named Player Of The Month for January, scored a pair of goals in a two-minute span to give him three on the day and 34 on the season. Sean Monahan added his 29th of the year before defenceman Callaghan, playing forward with the absence of Dalton Smith, scored the first two of his OHL career to round out the scoring.

Subban made seven saves on ten shots, while Graham turned aside 17 of the 23 shots he faced for the Bulls, who will host the second half of this home-and-home on Wednesday night. After the mid-week match, Ottawa returns home to take on Peterborough and Erie next weekend.

The game sheet can be found here.

Scoreboard Watch
It's been a while since the 67's have had to worry about teams encroaching on their conference lead, but with their recent skid, mixed with some solid play from Niagara, Ottawa fans may be doing a little bit of scoreboard watching down the stretch. I will update this later on, but the Niagara Ice Dogs look to pull back into first as they head to Oshawa to take on the Generals at 6:00. Last night, the Ice Dogs had a dominant 3-0 win over the Barrie Colts.

Sitting behind the Ice Dogs in third place, the Brampton Battalion defeated the Peterborough Petes 5-3 this afternoon. Brampton now finds themselves six points behind Niagara and seven behind Ottawa.

Ottawa still holds a commanding 17-point lead atop the East Division, however. Barring a colossal breakdown, this means that the 67's will surely find themselves in one of the top two positions in the Eastern Conference. It's unlikely that the division will be decided on the second last game of the season again this season.

Three Stars as Selected by the TEAM1200

Hardest Working 67's:  Mike Cazzola

Hardest Working 67's: Mike Cazzola

Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
  • Glad to see the team figure it out. The Bulls briefly carried the momentum in the first period right after their power play but it was all over once Shane scored. After that it was all Ottawa, all the time. Even in the third when Belleville was pushing hard to at least break the shut-out, the 67's were on top of them. Looking forward to seeing this effort more often.
  • Saw people waving blue pompoms down the arena. Thought for a moment that Nordique Nation had invaded. They were out in full force at the Sens game yesterday - lots of fun!
  • As mentioned in Friday's blog, the Mom's were celebrated before the game. After reading a few tweets from the players over the weekend, I was reminded that these kids and their families make quite a few sacrifices for their dreams and to entertain us along the way. Thanks to the moms, dads and siblings for sharing your guys with us. And to the players, thanks for making Ottawa your winter home and giving us great hockey to enjoy.
Some pictures from the game:
Prince celebrating his first of three goals (and the eventual game winner).  
Shane Prince celebrating the first of 3 goals (and the eventual game winner)
Big Mike giving a Belleville player the heave-ho.
  Callaghan's first and second goals of his OHL career came too late in the game for proper celebrations so this picture will have to do. 
Captain Marc-Anthony Zanetti has gone clean-shaven.  Slump buster?  
Captain Zanetti going clean-shaven for the game. A slump buster or a lost bet?
Click here to see more picture.

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