After a pair of disheartening losses at the Barrie Molson Centre put the Ottawa 67’s on the brink, they came back with a 2-1 win on home ice to stay in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Barrie Colts.
The first road game of the series brought Ottawa’s first regulation loss of the postseason, a 5-2 defeat that was very similar to the second game of last year’s playoffs against the Sudbury Wolves, with Ottawa being thoroughly outplayed. On Thursday, the 67’s were unable to hold a 2-1 lead heading into the third period, blowing the lead 20 seconds into the final frame before giving up a late winning goal.
On Friday night, a boisterous crowd welcomed the Barberpoles onto the ice and they sent the home fans away happy; this time taking another 2-1 lead into the dressing room after 40 minutes and holding onto it this time for a win.
Tyler Toffoli once again joined a tie as the OHL’s leading playoff goalscorer with eight seconds remaining in the middle period, a goal assisted by Sean Monahan and Marc-Anthony Zanetti, although the real aid on the play may have been provided by Dalton Smith who was pushed on top of, and remained on Barrie goaltender Mathias Niederberger as the puck crossed the line. Once again, Niederberger stood tall, making 43 stops on the night.
Although Barrie had five power plays on the night, Ottawa had the only goal with the man advantage between the two teams, as Cody Ceci smashed home a rebound, the assists going to Monahan and Zanetti again. Late in the second period, Daniel Erlich tied the game with a long shot on Petr Mrazek. Although goals from long-distance are becoming too common a sight for 67’s fans, the Wings’ prospect made 31 saves and played a solid game the rest of the evening.
The final two periods saw long, drawn-out scrums after the buzzer. Smith and Barrie’s Alex Lepkowski received offsetting roughing minors at the end of the second, while Toffoli and Barrie star Mark Scheifele jousted with one another at the game’s conclusion.
The 67’s were the beneficiary of a quick trip home. It appears Jeff Hunt is pulling out all the stops to help his team, getting them a flight back to Ottawa while Barrie bused to the Nation’s Capital. Game six goes Sunday in Barrie, where the 67’s will try to force the series back to their home ice for a seventh game, which would go Tuesday in Ottawa.
Click here for the game sheet.
Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
- It seemed like both teams started the game rather cautiously, concerned about making the mistake that would lead to the first goal. It evolved into a rather fast paced game by both teams. But the moment one team stopped skating, the other one took over control of the play. There is no room for coasting in this series.
- Both goalies were good and lucky - making some great stops and getting a few lucky bounces.
- There was a lot of complaining by Barrie after Toffoli's goal. They felt that Smith interfered with Neiderberger. They may have given the officials some cause for pause as there was a 2-on-1 by Ottawa in the third that was whistled down for some reason - offside (?). Just sayin'...
- I tend to follow the play so my pictures tend to predominated by the guys who are in the thick of things. I didn't get any good action shots of Prince. Hope he's OK.
- Lots of good candidates for Hardest Working 67's in my opinion including Smith, Graovac and Cazzola. I have lots of pictures of them.
- Wondered about the ice conditions - lots of folks falling down for no apparent reason and the puck took a few odd bounces.