September 09, 2012

67's Sweep Home-And-Home With Gatineau

With a second consecutive win over the Gatineau Olympiques to sweep the two-game preseason series, it's clear that the Ottawa 67's are able to put the puck in the net, but it's also clear that the key to this team's success will be on the penalty kill. Thanks in large part to a 7-for-7 penalty kill, the Barberpoles won 4-2 on Saturday night in Rockland.

"(In the two games) we learned that we know how to take penalties and we know how to kill them," said Chris Byrne of his team's discipline and strong shorthanded play. "We took some bad penalties tonight. It gets frustrating when you take bad penalties and there's not a lot of flow to the game."

In the two games, Ottawa's penalty kill was so outstanding that not only did they kill off 13 of 14 penalties, they outscored Gatineau 3-1 while being shorthanded. Tyler Graovac had Ottawa's lone shorthanded marker tonight, stealing the puck and beating Gatineau's Simon Bergeron on a breakaway to put Ottawa on top 2-0.

After most of the action had happened in Ottawa's end to start the game, Steven Janes opened the scoring on Ottawa's second shot on goal with a snapshot from the faceoff dot.

Down 2-0, Mickael Beauregard got Gatineau on the board when he beat Michael Nishi with a long wrist shot before finding himself in the center of the rough stuff. Beauregard threw a gloved punch at an unsuspecting Brett Gustavsen after the whistle, prompting Friday's hero Ryan Van Stralen to come to Gustavsen's aid, dropping his gloves and taking Beauregard to the ice.

For the second night in a row, Ottawa lost one of their players to a penalty that, in Major Junior, by rule isn't allowed to be called -- a two-minute instigator, five minute fighting major and game misconduct, while the other player doesn't receive a fighting major.

Regardless, the 67's killed off the Van Stralen major penalty and a penalty that Connor Brown received at the end of the first period, before capitalizing on their powerplay chance. Janes added his second of the night, tipping in a point shot from Mike Vlajkov to restore Ottawa's two-goal cushion.

The two teams traded goals before the middle period was done. With the teams playing 4-on-4, Cody Ceci's shot deflected off the post and in off Bergeron's leg. Chris King answered back for Gatineau with a shorthanded goal, but the 67's wouldn't let a second three-goal lead slip away in as many nights. Jacob Blair, again, came in for the third period and shut the door.

"Obviously your goalie has to be good on your penalty kill. The goalies played well for us this weekend, Blair played well, and goaltending was probably the best part of our game tonight," added Byrne.

According to the stats sheet, Blair stopped all eight shots he faced, while Nishi made 16 saves and Bergeron made 19 at the other end, but take those stats with a grain of salt as they seemed to miss numerous shots on goal (Ottawa had a goal before they had a shot according to the scoreboard).

Ottawa (2-0-0) has a week off before finishing their pre-season in Brockville against the Kingston Frontenacs (1-1-0).

Assorted notes:
  • With the insertion of Ceci into the lineup, Nevin Guy moved up to play center for the first two periods. The offencive defenceman didn't look out of place playing up front. For the third period, he moved back on defence.
  • Remy Giftopoulos was shaken up after being driven into the boards by Beauregard after Ceci's goal, but later returned.
  • Graovac's solid penalty killing didn't go unnoticed by coach Byrne. "At one point in the second period I turned to him and asked him if he'd had a 5-on-5 shift and he hadn't."
  • Ceci seemed to take over the role of makeshift captain, leading the team's pre-game warmup and discussing scrums with the officials. "Zanetti did a good job of being our captain last year. I've been here for four years and now I have to step up."
Some pictures from the game:  

Click here to see more pictures from the game. 

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