Less than 24 hours after Remy Giftopoulos scored in his old building as a member of the Windsor Spitfires, Graovac did the same for his new squad, scoring on a 5-on-3 advantage to give Belleville a 2-1 lead at the time.
“That’s a good hockey team and an older hockey team,” said Chris Byrne. “I told our guys, if we have that effort every night and play that hard, good things are going to happen for us.”
Ryan Van Stralen had a hat trick on the afternoon, but it wasn’t enough to outscore the Bulls. After Van Stralen opened the scoring midway through the first, Ottawa gave up a pair of two-man advantages.
“That’s his job, getting to the net and creating problems down low,” said Byrne of Van Stralen’s performance. “I thought he was all over them today.”
Brendan Gaunce tied the game, a minute before Graovac gave the visitors their first lead of the afternoon.
After Jordan Subban made it a 3-1 game, Ottawa answered with a pair of their own powerplay goals. Michal Cajkovsky’s point shot was tipped in by Van Stralen to bring the 67’s to within one, and Cajkovsky tied the game with another shot from the line.
The Bulls put the game in the way in the third. Daniil Zharkov had a pair of markers, one of them an own goal off the chest of Sean Monahan, and Aaron Berisha added the other. Van Stralen tallied between Zharkov’s markers to complete the hattrick, but it was as close as Ottawa would get.
Jacob Blair made 31 saves on 37 shots, stopping three breakaways, while Malcolm Subban made 32 stops at the other end for a Belleville team that has gone undefeated against Ottawa this season.
“We wish those guys well, all the times except for when they play us,” added the bench boss regarding Belleville.
Ottawa now has a rest until Wednesday, when they take on the conference-leading Barrie Colts.
Game sheet can be found here.
- Ottawa surrendered seven powerplay opportunities in each of their games this weekend. Today, they faced two 5-on-3's, a much more effective powerplay and didn't have Mark Petaccio (out with a charlie horse) to help them kill penalties.
- Byrne was assessed a bench minor that lead to Gaunce's goal, as he wasn't pleased with an instigator penalty assessed to Sean Callaghan in a fight that was clearly started by Belleville's Niki Petti.
- Just seconds after that scrap, Jonathan Duchesne went at it with Joseph Cramarossa. Brett Gustavsen and Carter Sandlak dropped the gloves right at the fourty-minute mark to cap off a rough-and-tumble second period.
- If nothing else, the officials made a few make-up calls in the second. A pair of hooking penalties to Belleville were very soft.
- It was good to see Andrew Abou-Assaly get quality ice time in key third-period situations. For someone who gave up a chance at an Ivy League education to come play for his hometown team, it was almost upsetting to see him take so few shifts as of late.
- Speaking of not getting shifts, Graovac didn't come into the game for a good portion of the first period. His first shift was on the powerplay, where he hit the post.
Three Stars as Selected by the Team1200
Hardest Working 67's: Joseph Blandisi
- The 67's were full value in this game. Played hard, fast hockey and gave the Bulls all they could handle. Would have loved to see them win but no shame in how they didn't.
- Rookie Jacob Blair versus veteran Malcolm Subban. Jacob played really well - including holding his ground on a pair of breakaways in the third. The team played well in front of him too - cleaning up anything and anyone who was hanging around. They got a little discombobulated in the second with more than a few errant clearing attempts but all in all they were strong.
- Nice crowd at the game today including a number of Canadian Forces members and their families. The fans gave them a well-deserved ovation in welcome.
- A very physical game too - much different from the game against Peterborough.
- A few days to rest up and heal up and take on the Barrie Colts!
Jacob Blair with one of his many saves.
Big Mike's PPG from the blue line.
Click here to see more pictures from the game.