December 13, 2014

Groulx's First Career Goal Sparks Toy Toss, Statement Win

Kevin Groulx scored his first career OHL en route to the 67’s most dominant win of the year, 4-1 over Belleville.

Groulx’ first career tally, much like Troy Henley’s first OHL goal last season, kicked off the team’s Teddy Bear Toss.

“I forgot for a second that the bears were coming down and had a couple smoke me in the shoulder,” joked Groulx of the yearly tradition. 

“(The goal) feels tremendous, it’s been a long time coming."

After a tentative start to a top team in the conference, the first powerplay of the night supplied Ottawa with the opening goal that changed the course of the game.

Brendan Bell added another powerplay marker in the first, while Erik Bradford scored on a shorthanded breakaway and Dante Salituro opened the gap, deflecting Evan deHaan’s point shot.

From there, Leo Lazarev took over.

The makeshift starter faced at least 11 shots in each of the three periods but saved his most important stops for the third.

Despite not playing Thursday, Belleville looked like a team in the midst of a three-in-three, as the 67’s easily controlled play and opened up a four-goal advantage.

This was a far cry from the Belleville team the 67’s played, and lost to, just over a week ago.

“I thought we actually played better in that game,” said Jeff Brown.  “We should’ve won that game, but this game was still a good one, it was a good win.”

It’s also a win that pulls them to within two points – with three games in hand – of the Bulls who currently hold second in the East.

A Saturday re-match and a mid-week matchup with Kingston, who are right on Ottawa’s tail, could give the team a good gauge for where they stand at the trade deadline.

Assorted Notes:
  • Ryan Orban wasn't as aggressive as perhaps expected, although very understandable in his first game with a new team.  He didn't receive any penalty kill time, but likely will once there's time to get used to Brown's defensive system.
  • Jake Middleton is playing his best hockey of his career and living up to his stock when the 67's traded for him.  Bradford's goal was created by Middleton, and he threw his weight around all night.
  • Matt Mercer had to make his presence felt playing on the wing instead of defence, dropping the gloves in the opening 10 minutes and trading punches with Justin Lemcke.  Brett Gustavsen went at it with Bell, his former linemate, in the third.
  • If Groulx continues this play, Sam Studnicka may be expendable at the trade deadline as he returns from his eight-game suspension.   Groulx can be used on all special teams and looks to be that ideal third line winger.

Three Stars as Selected by TSN1200

Hardest Working 67's:  Jacob Middleton Hardest Working 67's: Jacob Middleton 

 Some pictures from the game: 

Rookie Kevin Groulx scores his first OHL goal and sets off the Teddy Bear Toss
Rookie Kevin Groulx scores his first OHL goal and sets off the Teddy Bear Toss

Newcomer from Saginaw, Ryan Orban
Recent addition from Saginaw, Ryan Orban

Leo Lazarev making one of his key saves for the win.

Click here to see more pictures from the game.

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