February 24, 2013

Bulls Take Ninth Straight, Seventh Straight Against Ottawa

After dropping seven regular season contests last season to the Ottawa 67’s, the Belleville Bulls have turned the tables, winning their seventh straight against Ottawa on the year and their ninth straight by a score of 6-3.

With his squad playing for the first time since being mathematically eliminated on Friday night, Chris Byrne is hoping for the compete level to be just as high as the team tries to build momentum going into next season

“It starts with how hard we work and how we practice and compete and stick together,” said Byrne.  “Our young guys are learning and those are the kinds of things we look for as building blocks.”

“There’s not a whole lot more the guys could’ve done today.  When you outshoot and out chance the top team (in the conference), the difference in the game was not being able to kill off a couple of penalties.”

Tyler Graovac scored his third goal in as many games against his former team since being traded, scoring the Bulls’ fifth goal midway through the third period.  Adam Berisha added a late insurance goal for Belleville.

Sean Monahan, who was expected to sit out this game with a back injury, was re-inserted into the lineup just ahead of the pre-game warmup, and had a pair of powerplay goals.  He got Ottawa on the board in the first to cut a 2-0 Bulls lead in half, and scored after Graovac’s marker to keep the home side in the game.

“We talk about compete level and hard work and he leads us in those categories,” added Byrne about his captain.  “Many fans don't know how sore he was going into today's game.  Credit to him and how much he wanted to play.”

Brett Gustavsen rounded out the first period scoring to tie the game at two.  Daniel Zharkov and Ottawa native Alan Quine opened the scoring for Belleville, while Jordan Subban and Brady Austin tallied for the visitors in the middle frame.

Jacob Blair made 24 saves after getting Friday night off.  Malcolm Subban was forced to make 34 stops at the other end to earn the win.

Ottawa remains eight points behind 19th placed Erie, who lost today and have played one more game.

Click here to see the game sheet.

Assorted Notes:
  • Monahan was such a last-second decision to play that his equipment wasn't originally brought to the rink.  After being picked apart by International Scouting Service, this type of effort could show the character that an NHL team wants in a player.
  • Gustavsen didn't play a lot in the first period and got burned on the second goal by Quine.  He looked displeased on the bench, then came back with a fire lit under him and scored on his next shift.
  • Joseph Blandisi was one of Ottawa's hardest workers today, but it seems as though OHL officials are on his case.  He picked up his third diving penalty as a 67 today.
  • It was good to see such a big crowd even now that the team's been eliminated, and it was even better to hear a bit of an applause after Graovac's goal.
Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
  • No "three stars"  slide show.  Didn't get good pictures of the players.
  • A "Hardest Working 67's" wasn't announced at the rink and I didn't catch it on the radio.  So the hardest working 67's as selected by me:  Joseph Blandisi.
  • The 67's skated, worked hard and created chances, but they just couldn't beat the Bulls.  It was a physical, sometimes chippy affair.  No love lost between these two teams even with former team mates playing.
  • While Graovac did score on his former team, Jacob Blair also stoned him on a break-away in the third period. 
  • This is my last home game of the season...won't be around for the end so no more game-day pictures.  There were some tough games to watch but there were also some gutsy performances.  It was clear early that wins would be hard to come by this year so the focus had to be on how hard the team competed.  It has been interesting to see the team slowly improve over the year.   Kathryn, Alex and I will be doing our individual round-ups once everything is said and done.  In the meantime, keep watching this spot for great game summaries from Kathryn and Alex. 
Some pictures from the game:

Ryan Van Stralen fighting for space in front of the Belleville net.

Dante Salituro trying to drive to the net.

I don't know who the 67's player is on the other side of this collision.

Click here to see more pictures.  

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