September 08, 2012

Former Local Van Stralen Scores Game Winner For "Smiths Falls 67's"

For the second year in a row, the Ottawa 67's (or 'Smiths Falls 67's', as they were introduced to a Smiths Falls Community Arena record 1,800 fans) have begun the pre-season with a narrow win over an inter-provincial rival with a lot more experience under its belt. After letting a three goal lead slip away, it was 67's forward and former Smiths Falls Bear Ryan Van Stralen who ended up scoring the game winner in a 5-4 victory over the Gatineau Olympiques.

The two teams play tomorrow night in Rockland. The game will wrap up Gatineau's pre-season, meanwhile the 67's still have one more home game against the Kingston Frontenacs, where it's now expected they will take on the identity of the 'Brockville 67's'.

Brett Gustavsen didn't have the most fortunate start to the game, although he ended up being the star of the game in the second period. Six minutes into the game, he took a slash to the knee from Gatineau's Gabriel Bourret, and an earful on the way off the ice. After leaving for the rest of the first, Gustavsen came back and in the first nine minutes and four seconds of the second, he was a +3 with two goals as Ottawa rushed out to a 3-0 lead.

Tyler Graovac had opened the scoring less than two minutes into the middle period, burying a cross-crease pass from Nevin Guy.

Gustavsen's second goal was the first of four during a five-minute penalty kill for the 67's. Sean Callaghan took exception to Brandon Belding's late hit on Gustavsen, and threw several punches on a turtling Belding. Callaghan was given 17 minutes in penalties on the play, finding himself ejected from the game and causing a five-minute powerplay for the visitors.

Just 30 seconds after Gustavsen's goal to give Ottawa a three-goal advantage, Taylor Burke, who lead the Olympiques in pre-season scoring heading into the matchup, got his team on the board.

Remy Giftopoulos scored Ottawa's second shorthanded marker of the night on a great individual effort, going through two defenders and scoring on a wraparound. Samuel Courtemache answered back with a shot that deflected off of Jonathan Duchesne before trickling in.

After a dominating middle period from Ottawa, Gatineau brought themselves within one goal when Bourret, who already had a busy night in the physical department, scored in the final minute of the second.

Kameron Kielly
completed the comeback for the Olympiques, tying the game at three. Jacob Blair, who had taken over for Keegan Wilson at the beginning of the third in Ottawa's crease, was able to shut the door after allowing the tying goal.

It wasn't until Van Stralen tipped home a Mike Vlajkov shot on the powerplay that that tie was broken. When the 67's PA announcer made a special point to mention that the goal was scored by an ex-Smiths Falls player, the crowd erupted.

Blair made 10 saves on 11 shots to preserve the win. "He definitely impressed a lot of people tonight," said Wilson. "It was his first game, a great performance by him and the team's really proud of him."

Wilson drew some high praise of his own for his outstanding play in the first two periods courtesy of head coach Chris Byrne. "There's going to be nights on the road where it's a tough start. If he doesn't play really strong in the first period, it's a different outcome."

Wilson finished the night with 15 saves, while Eric Brassard made 16 stops at the other end.

Assorted notes:
  • Matthieu Desautels was one of the best skating defencemen the 67's had on the night. When he hits his peak physical potential, he could be a very interesting piece of this rebuild.
  • Jonathan Duchesne's ability to jump up in the play and get back in time will come in handy throughout the year. Look for him to log many powerplay and penalty kill minutes.
  • Possibly look for Andrew Abou-Assaly and Dante Salituro to play together a lot this season. AAA looks more comfortable on the wing and started to gel.
  • Chris Byrne believes that Keegan Wilson's goaltending style fits well with the 67's defence. "He stops a lot of first shots, if we can clean up the front of the net, do a nice job there, then we'll have success."
  • Although he had high praise for Wilson and Brett Gustavsen, Byrne noted that the play of Tyler Groavac was what caught his eye the most. Graovac, in his opinion, was the best player on both special teams throughout the night.
Some pictures from the game:
Dante Salituro

Richard Mraz

Ladislav Zikmund

Click here to see more pictures.

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