February 02, 2013

Three Goals From Back End Help 67's Edge Sting

Mike Vlajkov broke a pair of third-period deadlocks with his fifth and sixth goals of the year respectively as the Ottawa 67’s got three goals from the back end en route to a 4-3 win over the Sarnia Sting.

Vlajkov scored just 45 seconds after Sarnia’s Anthony DeAngelo tied the game at 2, and after  league-leading goalscorer Reid Boucher tied the game again, Vlajkov’s point shot bounced off the back boards and in with just over a minute remaining in regulation.

"They got shots through, so that's the biggest thing," said Chris Byrne of his blueliners.  "They had some good shots and some good screens in front too."

Michal Cajkovsky opened the scoring for Ottawa in a mostly dominant first period, and John Urbanic added another as the 67’s took a 2-0 lead early in the second.

Boucher got Sarnia back into the game late in the middle frame with his first of the night before DeAngelo had the tying marker in the third.  Boucher added another, his 42nd of the season, to make it a 3-3 game. 

That’s when Vlajkov’s wide point shot bounced off Sarnia goaltender JP Anderson and in, holding up as the game winner.

Anderson, well known to Ottawa fans for his performance in the 2010 playoff series between the 67’s and Majors, made 30 saves and stopped Mark Petaccio from putting the game out of reach after Vlajkov’s second goal. 

Jacob Blair made 31 saves for the win in his third consecutive start.  "I think he's been calm in the net and he's definitely done a great job for us in these last three," added Byrne.

The 67's take on the Peterborough Petes Wednesday.  "We start a seven-game homestand here and that's a great way to start it," said Byrne.  "You never know.  There's all kinds of points on the table and still, there's lot of hockey left and we play at home for a while."

Game sheet can be found here.

Assorted Notes
  • Even before his goal, this was Urbanic's best game as a 67, and he was impressive all night.  His bench boss was also impressed with his performance, saying "he works hard, I think he's keeping his game simple and he had a good shot tonight and good chances going to the net."
  • Along with scoring three of the four goals, Ottawa's defence was impressive at both ends.  Jonathan Duchesne and Taylor Davis were both physical and it was a tough defence for Sarnia to play against.
  • Joseph Blandisi had a rough night with the officials tonight.  He was called for diving while drawing a hooking penalty, called for holding the stick while drawing another hook, and didn't draw a call at all from a blatant Sarnia hook late in the third.

Three Stars as Selected by the Team1200 (Boucher did not take a turn):
 Hardest Working 67's:  Mike Cajkovsky
Hardest Working 67's: Mike Cajkovsky

Random Thoughts from Behind the Lens:
  • This was a great game to watch, possibly their best game of the season.  They played as a unit, they were hard on the puck, good puck support, and in the first period, picked Sarnia's pockets at will.  I just hope they can keep remembering how this went and how it felt.  They were world-beaters for this game.
  • Sarnia seemed to find their legs at about the half-way mark and began getting their shots through.  The 67's started the 3rd a bit tentatively which led to the first tying goal from Sarnia.  Ottawa didn't get their first shot on goal in the 3rd until they re-took the lead with 12:04 left to play. 
  • A good crowd on hand for the game (close to 7,000) including a rather large contingent of Sarnia fans who made the 700+k trip.  While their team didn't win, it certainly was an entertaining game right to the final buzzer.
  • I had the pleasure of meeting 3 university students, one of whom is an exchange student from France.  It was the first hockey game she attended and she was impressed with the game and with the game-day atmosphere.  She and her friends certainly chose a great game to see.  She was less enthusiastic about the weather; it's +15 degrees C where her parents are.  She vowed never to complain about being cold when she returns to France. 
Some pictures from the game:

John Urbanic making life difficult for goalie J.P. Anderson 

Jacob Blair making one of his 28 saves. 

Mike celebrating the go-ahead goal in the final 1:17 of the game. 
A relieved-looking Mike Vlajkov celebrating his GWG with the bench.  

Click here to see more pictures.

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