November 17, 2012

Ottawa Penalty Kill Overworked and Overpowered in 4-2 loss

Despite being heavily outshot and missing their top goal-scorer, the Ottawa 67’s managed to hold their own for most of the afternoon.  In the third period, however, the Niagara Ice Dogs’ attack was too much to handle, as they pulled away en route to their second 4-2 road win at Scotiabank Place this year.

Jacob Blair made 40 stops in his ninth start of the season.  At the other end, Chris Festarini only had to turn away 23 shots from the 67’s in a winning effort.

"It was great for (Jacob) to get a start at home and play real solid in the net," said Chris Byrne.  "He did a real good job today."

If the absence of Tyler Graovac and the 67’s starting of a rookie goaltender weren’t enough to help the visitors to a win, the Ice Dogs were also the beneficiary of seven powerplay attempts.  Ottawa was able to kill off the first five penalties, maintaining a 2-1 lead, before Steven Shipley and Brett Richie netted a pair of goals with the man advantage.  Shipley added a second goal to put the game away.

"We had some good penalty kills.  When you're killing that many it makes it tough. We put ourselves in a position where we were killing penalties too many times in the game," added Byrne.

The 67’s only had three powerplays, two of them coming in the final seven minutes, and were unable to score with any of their advantages.  "I thought we got tired killing penalties and when we got chances on the powerplay late in the game, I think some of the guys were worn out," said Byrne.

Brook Hiddink opened the scoring for Niagara just over five minutes into the game, a goal that was quickly answered as Brett Gustavsen tied the game two and a half minutes later.  In the second period, Remy Giftopoulos gave Ottawa the lead with his third goal in as many games.

Ottawa (6-14-0-2) has another chance to make up ground in the Eastern Conference tomorrow afternoon as they host Ottawa Senators prospect Stefan Noesen and his Plymouth Whalers.

Game sheet can be found here.

Assorted notes:
  • Connor Brown was very deserving of the game's hardest working player.  He was a physical force today, getting a lot of ice time alongside Giftopoulos and Andrew Abou-Assaly most of the afternoon.  Byrne also recognized his effort, saying he had a "great game".
  • Despite dropping six straight decisions, Byrne doesn't think that his team is getting too down on themselves.  "Our guys are solid on the bench, they were solid today, and I thought it was a really good effort."
  • Some of Niagara's powerplays came via some questionable calls.  Taylor Davis was given a penalty for a borderline hit along the boards in the second period, while Gustavsen was on the receiving end of two identical hits in the same period.
  • Jonathan Duchesne tried to light a fire under his team by dropping the gloves with Joel Wigle.  Duchesne has now used up three of his ten fights for the year.
This time the visiters did not take their turn for the Three Star selection.

The 2nd Star as Selected by the Team1200:  Jacob Blair
2nd star: Jacob Blair

Hardest Working 67's:  Connor Brown
Hardest working 67's:  Connor Brown

Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
  •  A strong effort from the team today.  Good energy and a few really good scoring chances (including 2 essentially empty nets).  They just lost to a really good team.  Niagara needed their 2 PPGs to win the game.   Jacob did a good job holding his own against a rather prolific team.
  • That hit to the head penalty against Taylor Davis in the second was totally bogus.  It happened right in front of me and Taylor simply road the player into the boards - there was no hit.  The standard for officiating was not upheld today (not just this play - it was pretty crappy across the board).
  • Tyler Graovac was out with a lower body injury.  No surprise given he played 5 games in 6 days last week.   Hope he recovers soon. 
  • The rookies are certainly getting lots of ice time - can't remember when the team last iced a full team. 
  • Lots and lots of scouts at the game today.  Really lots.  Many.  A small herd.  A good opportunity for the players to show what they can do.
    Some Pictures from the Game:

    Taylor Fielding showing off his eye-hand coordination.  He flipped it to behind him and kicked it back up with his heel.
    Taylor Fielding demonstrating his eye-hand coordination.

    Dante Salituro moving through the opposition.

    Jacob Blair making one of many saves. 

    Click here to see more pictures.

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