Brett Gustavsen scored the winning goal at the 2:09 mark in overtime to lead the Ottawa 67’s to a 4-3 victory over the visiting Barrie Colts.
The 67’s came strong out of the gate, dominating the play and outshooting the Colts 6-2 within the first 3 minutes. However, it was the Colts that drew first blood. Gregg Sutch muscled Jake Cardwell off the puck skated into opened ice and released a quick wrist shot that zoomed past Petr Mrazek and it to the net.
Continuing to put the physical pressure on the Colts, the 67’s attempted to wear down an already depleted team. Coach Chris Byrne commented, “Yeah, that was the idea. We wanted to finish checks and did a great job of getting pucks low on their defensemen.”
This resulted in the Colt’s losing forward Ivan Telegin after what seemed to be a harmless low hit from Steven Janes. Telegin did not return and the Colts certainly missed him.
The play continued at both ends of the ice forcing both goaltenders to make some tough saves. The 67’s wouldn’t tie it up until the halfway into the second period when Tyler Graovac found an opened Dalton Smith in the slot. Smith made no mistake and tapped it past Mathias Niederberger.
Coach Byrne praised Smith after the game, “He’s played hard. He plays the same way every night. It’s nice to see him get rewarded with that goal going to the net.”
Momentum switched and it was all Ottawa for the next twenty minutes. That was until Josh MacDonald streaked in from the right side and beat Mrazek with long shot that tipped off Cardwell’s stick. The Colts regained their 1-goal lead and sucked the atmosphere out of the J Benson Cartage Centre.
Just under 4 minutes later, Cody Ceci wired a bullet shot from the point. The puck hit Steven Janes’ stick and deflected the puck over the pad of Niederberger. This sparked new life into the 67’s and into the crowd. Niederberger stood on his head making several key saves to keep his team in it.
The 67’s then got a break. With 1:05 remaining in a tied game, the Colts were caught with too many men on the ice and Gregg Sutch was sent to serve it. With 25 seconds left in the third period, Toffoli fed the puck into the slot where Monahan shot it past a screened Neiderberger.
It was all but over.
Something remarkable happened. With 8.7 seconds left in the period and 16 seconds after the 67’s go-ahead goal, Mark Scheifele bats the puck out of mid-air and Mrazek had no chance.
“It was a tough break, you know. We got the puck on a stick, it hit the glass in the air and came back up in front of the net. It was a tough tough break you know,” Coach Byrne commented on the play.
It was now a tied game and headed for overtime.
Both teams came out firing, but it was the 67’s that were the last standing. Just over two minutes into the extra frame, Brett Gustavsen shoots the puck on the sharp angle and the puck squeaked past Neiderberger for the win.
“There was a shift before too. Everyone was going to the net, everyone was working hard. And that’s what happens you know, when you get momentum out there you’re going to score goals and that’s what we did,” said Gustavsen commenting on his big game winning goal.
What does Coach Byrne think of the rookie forward? “There’s no quit to him. Sometimes it’s to his own detriment, but most of the time it helps us a ton and he had a great first year here. That’s for sure.”
The 67’s stormed back from a 3-1 series deficit and won the series in 7. All credit to the 67’s as they slowly took the series game by game, one shift at a time and were rewarded by forcing a game 6 and later a game 7. It was a roller coaster of a series and this game summed it up.
“We got work to do, so we’ll get at it right now for sure … They’re a good team, so we’ll have to be ready for them on Friday night,” comments Coach Byrne regarding the win and facing the Niagara Ice Dogs in the Eastern Conference finals.
Click here for the game sheet.
Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
- Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome. What a game for the fans and a birthday gift for the 67's owner Jeff Hunt. Great game - great outcome.
- Full credit to the Barrie Colts. They were down several key players and still made it very very hard for the 67's. While lots of credit goes to their goalie Neiderberger, in reality credit goes to the entire team who didn't have quit in their vocabulary. This game was a bounce away either way.
- This has been a great playoff run for Tyler Graovac. Finally healthy for a lengthy run, he's really rounding into form. So glad to see his choice as the game's first star.
- Speaking of rounding out, Tyler Toffoli really has evolved as a player over the years. Sure he scored a couple of 50-goal seasons, but he's also making an impact off the score sheet. From the vantage point of behind the lens, I see an unselfish player who is working hard in all zones to contribute. He may not be the most physical player but it's not for lack of trying.
- Have I mentioned how much I like Cazzola. And he actually smiled at the end of this game (it's hard to get a pic of him with a smile). What a hard worker. Imagine if he had been here for three or four years. I know, appreciate what we have as opposed to what we didn't have. But he has been an outstanding addition to the team.
- With the 67's making it to the next round, perhaps Broussard will have time to heal. He's anxious to play but just isn't quite ready.
- It was great to see former 67's players Zenon Konopka and Cody Lindsay on hand to cheer on the 67's. Blood is thicker than water.
- Playoff hockey is taking its toll on me. Was a fan at the Sens-Rangers game Monday night. Never enjoyed a loss like that before. Full value by the Sens - no passengers and outstanding fans. Game 7 with the 67's just to be followed up by game 4 with the Sens. Round 3 for the 67s and the Fred Page Cup next week. And I get up before 5 each day and get to my paying job before 7AM each day. I'll sleep sometime in June I think.