April 26, 2012

67’s on the brink of elimination after 5-2 loss

By Kathryn Jean

Petr Mrazek stopped 39 shots, but it wasn’t enough as the Niagara IceDogs skated to a 5-2 victory over the host Ottawa 67’s.  The win gives the IceDogs a 3-1 series lead and puts the 67’s in a must win situation Friday night at the Gatorade Garden City Complex.
Despite an early powerplay chance, the Ottawa 67’s didn’t get off to a very good start.  The Niagara IceDogs did a great job of keeping the 67’s to the perimeter and limiting their chances – in fact, the 67’s had no shots and no chances in the first 6 and a half minutes of the game.

However the momentum started to change once they finally got their first shot – and it was a great chance that Mark Visentin had to be ready for.  The 67’s started to produce more scoring chances with help from another 2 straight powerplay opportunity.  On each end of the rink, the goaltenders were solid. 

It wasn’t until the 10 minute mark of the first period that the 67’s would open the scoring.  With Remy Giftopolous in the box serving a too many men on the ice penaltiy, Tyler Graovac bounced the puck off the boards in the neutral zone and beat Dougie Hamilton to the net.  Dalton Smith grabbed the loose puck in the slot and wired it top shelf past Visentin.

After 20 minutes, the IceDogs outshot the 67’s 15-12.

The 67’s started to get into a bit of penalty trouble in the second period and took 3 penalties in the first 8 minutes.   The Ice Dogs continued to fire shot after shot and Petr Mrazek had to come up big on the flurry of pucks.  While Mrazek stood on his head, the team in front of him started to collapse.  After a big initial save, the puck took a weird bounce onto Andrew Agozzino’s stick.  He made no mistake a tapped it effortlessly into the open Ottawa net.

After 40 minutes, the IceDogs outshot the 67’s 17-11 for a total of 32-23 IceDogs.

Focusing on the period at hand, the Ottawa 67’s regrouped in the 3rd period and started to look like they did in the first period.  Off a great individual effort, Tyler Toffoli netted his 1st goal in 4 games.  He deked out Jesse Graham, went backhand to forehand, and then slid it past Visentin to give the 67’s the go-ahead goal.

The IceDogs would respond.  With only one man back, Alex Friesen catches a wide open Andrew Agozzino in the slot who makes a beautiful stickhandling move to get the puck past Mrazek.  That was Agozzino’s second of the night.

Less than a minute later, the IceDogs would get their first lead of the game.  From a defensive breakdown off the faceoff, Ottawa native David Pacan grabbed hold of his rebound as it squeezed under Mrazek’s pads.  This ultimately led to the 67’s collapse.                   

David Pacan would tally his second of the game on the powerplay beating Mrazek on a sharp angle – a goal he would like to have back.

The IceDogs would round out the scoring with an empty net goal from Freddie Hamilton.  His first in 5 games since his breakout 5 point night earlier this month.

The 67’s fall 5-2 and will try to force a game 6 in Niagara Friday night.

You can catch the action on the Team 1200 or Rogers Cable 22.

Click here for the game sheet.

Three Stars as Selected by the Team1200

Hardest working 67's Hardest Working 67's: Tyler Graovac
Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
  • They didn't lose for lack of effort. But as Tyler Toffoli said in the post-game presser, the string of penalties took their toll and the team let up in the third.
  • Speaking of penalties, it sure looked like the third-period-in-the-playoffs rule book was in effect. It went both ways. Lots of stuff went uncalled for both teams.
  • For a while, the 67's penalty kill looked way more lethal than their power play.
  • I didn't get the Team1200's pick for Hardest Working 67's. If someone sends it to me, I will post a picture if I have one. Too close to call for me. I thought there were several candidates. I don't think there were any passengers from my perspective.  (edit:  Thanks to Shannon (@S_Elly04) for letting me know it was Tyler.  He was on my short list.)
  • When asked whether the 67's can pull off another three games in a row, Toffoli responded that they just have to take it one period at a time, take fewer penalties and ensure they play full 60 minutes. This is different than playing against Barrie.
  • The 67's have been playing lots of hard hockey and often without key players. Their path to this point has been much tougher than Niagara's. Warriors!
  • While the players and fans believe that there is much more hockey to be played, it can't be helped to think that this may have been the last time we have seen this year's team on this ice. I am sure fans would like to give their team and this incarnation of the rink a fitting farewell when the ride is over.
    Some pictures from the game:

    Dalton Smith in his office
    One of my candidates for Hardest Working 67's
     Toffoli on his way to scoring Ottawa's 2nd goal 
    Tyler Toffoli on his way to scoring on Visentin
    Click here to see more pictures from the game.

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