September 06, 2016

67's (0-2-0-0) Week In Review: No need to panic yet

It’s the beginning of September and the OHL preseason is well underway. After completing their first of 2 home-and-home series and finishing 0-2, it’s clear the Ottawa 67’s still have a lot of work ahead of them.

Cutting down the team from 41 to 23 players earlier in the week, the 67’s brass is starting to see how their team shapes up against competition. Some notables from the roster cuts include 2015-16 67’s skaters Adam Craievich and Will Brown. However, Brown was later brought back to the team before game 2 and was placed in the starting lineup next to veteran defenseman Jake Middleton.

The 67’s opened the preseason with a 6-4 road loss to the Kingston Frontenacs. The 67’s stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first period including two goals from sophomore Austen Keating and 17-save effort from rookie netminder Olivier Lafreniere. Other than a 20 minute lapse in the middle of the game where the 67’s allowed 5 unanswered goals, the goaltending and offense confirmed why Jeff Brown saved many from initial roster cuts. Keating added his hat trick goal in the third period, but the damage had already been done and a late empty net goal sealed their fate.

Things didn’t end a whole lot better two days later in Ottawa where the 67’s hosted the Frontenacs completing their home-and-home series. With a slightly different roster, the 67’s fell 4-3 to the in regulation. It was back and forth action throughout the game and with a poor combination of defensive breakdowns and bad luck, the 67’s were unable to clawback. 

While the 67’s have been on the losing end, Head Coach Jeff Brown doesn’t feel like there is any reason to panic yet. 

“We’ll see how it starts, I don’t want to be in panic mode – it’s a long season. Certainly, we’re going to work with the guys and see how they progress and then re-evaluate in a month or two. If we have to tweak [the roster], we’ll tweak.”

Sasha Chmelevski and Austen Keating added another goal each in the second game and are both looking better than ever. They will be key contributors to the team as they go into their sophomore and draft year. Chmelevski has already started to turn heads with his dominate performance at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August. Chmelevski led Team USA in scoring with 10 points in 5 games and helped his team win the silver medal.

“Sasha [Chmelevski] is very good on the ice and off the ice. He’s a pro. Everything he does is best he can,” said Jeff Brown who feels he has been one of the bright spots next to Travis Barron.

After requesting a trade earlier this season, Ben Fanjoy is looking like he’s enjoying his time much better and is no longer unhappy in Ottawa. He tallied 2 points in the first two games and is seeing increased icetime filling the spots between Dante Salituro (AHL) and Jeremiah Addison (trade to Windsor).

The biggest question for the Ottawa 67’s is the same question that has plagued them for years… and that’s defense. This year’s blueline is younger than ever before averaging out to 17 years old with only 3 over the age of 18. Coach knows it will take some time, but is happy with the talent of his younger guys.

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