September 27, 2015

Ottawa 67's fall flat in frustrating home opener

Selfish players were to blame for the 67’s 4-0 loss against the Barrie Colts in Ottawa’s home opener, according to head coach Jeff Brown.

“Selfish plays, decisions and pouting because you can’t score. Well, nobody feels sorry for you,” said a frustrated Brown after the game.

“The undisciplined nature of our play right now is disgusting,” he added.

“You go out there and battle for one another and you keep pushing and you stay together. This is eerily similar to last year. A bunch of selfish hockey players that don’t care about anyone but themselves.”

Dante Salituro agreed with Brown’s comparison to last year’s team, but hopes they can turn things around once again.

“We thought it was impossible last year. Everyone was down, and we changed it up in one game,” said the 18-year-old forward. 

After a disappointing 0-2 start on the road, the 67’s came home to play their first game in Ottawa in front of a noisy crowd of 5,693 on September 27.

Unfortunately the crowd and home ice were no help as Ottawa failed to get on the board, giving the Colts’ Mackenzie Blackwood a shutout, earning him first star of the game.

His own teammates Cordell James and Kevin Labanc took home second and third stars respectively for their own performance.

While the 67’s didn’t lack shots on the scoreboard, outshooting their opponents 39-27, Brown felt his players were lacking quality opportunities.

“You can’t play perimeter hockey and expect to score. I don’t care if we had 40 shots or not,” he said.

“A goalie that good, you’re not going to score from the perimeter.”

Blackwood wasn’t the only key factor in the Colts’ win.

Forward Andrew Mangiapane pocketed three points on the night, including an assist and two goals, one of which came with just 59 seconds left in the game after 67’s goaltender Liam Herbst was pulled for the extra attacker.

Brown was pleased with Herbst’s performance despite the loss.

“I feel sorry for (Liam Herbst) he gave us a pretty good effort tonight,” he said.

“This was a statement game for him and his teammates let him down tonight.”

The 67’s managed to keep the Colts off the board for almost 21 minutes of play, but James opened scoring for Barrie just 39 seconds into the middle frame. Ottawa was down two men at the time after Jake Middleton and Salituro took simultaneous penalties for holding and hooking respectively, late in the first.

The 67’s missed an opportunity to tie the game with 5:08 remaining in the second period when Jeremiah Addison was hauled down and awarded a penalty shot, easily stopped by Blackwood.

Kevin Labanc gave the Colts a two-goal lead just under three minutes later, with assists going to Rocky Kaura and James.

Barrie’s third goal, Mangiapane’s first for the night, came on the powerplay just under five minutes into the third period.

While Salituro was frustrated at the team’s performance, he doesn’t completely agree with his coach’s opinion of the players being selfish.

“Sometimes selfish plays happen out there, but no one’s really that selfish on the team,” he said.

Salituro believes if the team managed to come around last year, they can do it again this year.

“We just need to play one good game, get a couple bounces and we’re back on track.”

Brown wants to see the team step up in future games.

“It doesn’t matter if I yell or if I coddle,” he said.

“It’s them. They decide collectively that they are going to play for one another, they’re going to become brothers, they’re going to have each other’s backs, and they’re going to play for the number on the front,” added Brown.

“Then you have a chance.”

Hardest Working 67's:  Austin Keating
Hardest Working 67's as chosen by TSN1200: Austen Keating

Some photos from the game:

Rookie d:   Stepan Falkovsky

Rookie f:  Connor Warnholtz

Rookie d:  William Brown

Click here to see more photos from the game.

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