September 21, 2013

67's Duplicate 2011-12, Defeating Bulls in Home Opener

For the second time in three years, the Ottawa 67’s are 1-0-0 after defeating the Belleville Bulls in their home opener, storming back to score three goals in the third period to take 5-4 decision at the Canadian Tire Centre on Friday night.
Ready for the season to start.  

Joseph Blandisi, playing his first regular season game as a center after moving from the right wing, tucked home a rebound with just over three minutes to play to cap the comeback.

“We kept it positive and we knew we could come back, so we went out there and did it with hard work and driving the net,” said Blandisi on their third-period rally.  “Lots of positivity in the dressing room between periods.”

Mike Vlajkov and Taylor Fielding both scored two minutes apart on the powerplay earlier in the period to tie the game at four.

Almost identical to the 2012-13 home opener against Barrie a year ago today, Ottawa allowed the first two goals early on before storming back to tie the game late in the opening frame.

Brady Austin and Scott Simmonds opened the scoring for Belleville in the first five minutes and six seconds before first overall pick Travis Konecny took over, setting up Sam Studnicka on a 2-on-1 to get the home team on the board.

“It was good to get the first win under our belt and it was a good comeback, it felt really good,” said Konecny.

“He's still a young player,” said suspended head coach and general manager Chris Byrne, who watched the game from the press box.

“We know he's going to be a real good player in the league.  We're not feeding him too many minutes or situations where he's put up against guys that are a lot older, or where he won't be successful early.  I thought he had a strong night tonight obviously.”

Konecny also assisted on Fielding’s third-period goal.  Fielding added his first goal of the night late in the first to tie the score.

The top pick nearly gave Ottawa the lead late in the third, pulling off a stunning move on Austin before putting the puck between his own legs, only to be stopped by the toe of Charlie Graham.

“We're definitely excited to see what he can do this year,” added Blandisi.  “But for us, we've been watching this every day at practice, so it's not even a surprise anymore.”

David Tomasek, on the receiving end of a one-sided fight with Jonathan Duchesne last week that caused the Ottawa defender to be suspended tonight, broke a second-period tie, and Garrett Hooey re-gained the two-goal cushion for the visitors.

It wasn’t until Belleville’s penalty trouble in the third that momentum started to swing.

“We got a couple powerplay goals, obviously it's good to get a couple on the board and to come back a couple of times from down two,” added Byrne.

“The guys did a great job tonight.  Coming out and having a better start will be key for our Sunday game.”

Graham stopped 34 shots, facing 18 in the third period, in the losing effort.  Jacob Blair recovered from a couple of goals from below the hashmarks to make four saves in the third period, totaling 17 stops to preserve the win.

For the first time since March of 2012, the 67’s hold a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Barberpoles continue their opening weekend on Sunday as they take on the North Bay Battalion.

Game sheet can be found here.

Potential Sean Monahan Return

With Blandisi playing center, Konecny started the game as the third line center.  If Sean Monahan returns from Calgary Flames camp, it's needless to say that the lineup will see a bit of a shakeup.

The two centers weighed in on the potential return of their captain.

Konecny:  "It'd be an honour to play with Sean Monahan, I'm not too worried if he comes back, it'd be great to great to play with him, I'm excited either way for him."

Blandisi:  "It'd be a treat to go on Sean's wing again, I really enjoyed that last year.  We wish him the best and if he comes back, it's a blessing for us, but if not, I think we're going to be alright without him."

Three Stars as Selected by the Team1200

Hardest Working 67's: Mike Vlajkov
Assorted Notes:
  • Blandisi didn't see very many 5-on-5 ice time in the first period, but had a huge shot block on Austin with the score still 2-0.  He was the best penalty killer on the ice, creating a pair of shorthanded scoring chances.
  • Tyler Hill compliments Konecny's game very well.  Konecny had the flashy assist on Studnicka's goal, but it was a great play by Hill along the boards that lead to the break.
  • Graham looked shaky in the Belleville net, but he was also hung out to dry in the third period.  Unlike most games last season, the Barberpoles heavily outshot their opponent, putting 39 shots at the Bulls net while only facing 21 shots.
Some Pictures from the Game:
Travis Konecny preparing to saucer a pass to Sam Studnicki for the first Ottawa 67's goal of the season.
Tyler Hill powering his way through the Belleville defence.
  Tyler Hill powering through the defense. 
Newcomer, Alex Lintuniemi.
Import Alex Lintuniemi
Click here to see more pictures from the game. 

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