It was a highly anticipated battle for first place in the Eastern Conference. The Ottawa 67’s were hosting the red hot Niagara IceDogs – a team that has only lost 3 games in their last 26 games since the new year. Instead of coming out firing, the 67’s allowed themselves to get caught up in lost momentum from an early double highsticking minor and set the tone for the remainder of the game.
The 67’s successfully killed off the 4 minutes against the league leading IceDogs’ powerplay but the IceDog’s momentum continued. The Niagara IceDogs drew first blood after Freddie Hamilton scored right off the faceoff just under 7 minutes into the game. The 67’s would get their first shot on net only 7:28 into the first.
After some decent chances, the 67’s would finally respond when Shane Prince grabbed a Tyler Graovac drop pass and fired it past Mark Visentin to tie the game at 1. With 4 minutes left in the first, it appeared the two teams would head to intermission in a tie. However, Freddie Hamilton had other plans. He notched his second of the game with 7 seconds left to give the IceDogs a 2-1 lead going into the second period.
The 67’s never seemed to recover from the early momentum changing penalty. Niagara continued to beat Ottawa to the loose pucks, the battles in the corners, quality chances and most importantly on the scoreboard. Mrazek made a couple highlight reel saves on Alex Friesen but was beat moments later. Ryan Strome stole the puck away from Jake Cardwell creating a 2-on-1 rush the opposite way. He fed the puck to Freddie Hamilton who made no mistake to tap it past Mrazek for his hattrick goal.
The IceDogs would add two more early in the third period. Andrew Agozzino got his 39th of the season than 30 seconds later Joel Wigle would add his 9th. Visentin was not tested much, but helped keep him team in the game.
The 67’s remain in the second spot in the Eastern Conference while the IceDogs go up 3 points remaining in the first spot. The IceDogs also clinch their division with the convincing win. Ottawa will look for redemption on March 17th when they travel to Niagara for their final meeting of the season.
Meanwhile, the 67’s will prepare for their other three remaining games in the regular season vs Majors, Wolves & Battalion and will try to gain ground on the IceDogs. The 67’s host the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors Sunday afternoon at 2pm.
Click here for the game sheet.
Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
- With Zanetti and Broussard missing from the blue line and Fielding and Van Stralen missing from up front, the 67's were playing with a bit of a short bench. They were short one forward. Zanetti ma be back next week and Fielding tweeted that he was on his way back to Ottawa but I haven't heard anything about Broussard and Van Stralen.
- Newly signed David Walsh was in the line up wearing jersey 23 for his first Ottawa 67's game. He was moved around the line-up and saw time on just about every line. Ryan MacLean was called up for Wednesday's game against Kingston where he notched his first point. Now that his Nepean Raiders are into their playoff schedule, he cannot be called up.
- The IceDogs played a really good game. Fast, disciplined and sharp. I don't think they missed too many outlet passes. Everyone was pretty much where he was supposed to be.
- Nice crowd for the game.