January 29, 2017

67's party like it's 1999

The 67's are so far removed from a championship that all of the OHL teams they faced in their 1999 Memorial Cup win and 2001 Ontario Hockey League title run respectively have all since relocated.

But for a couple hours on Saturday, they turned back the clock and re-lived the old days.

With a lineup of old-timers including 1999 hero Matt Zultek and Ottawa legend Brian Kilrea honoured in a pre-game ceremony, a shotuout for ex-67 David Bell, now coach of the IceDogs, 1990's organ music coming out of the PA system and -- by 1999 standards -- an okay crowd of just over 6,000, the 67's put together an overtime thriller against what's become their biggest modern-day rival.

Far cry from the 90's

For a minute, it looked like the 1999 season was going to be replicated on-ice to go along with the off-ice festivities.

Mathieu Foget scored 14 seconds in, handing a quick deficit to a Niagara team that didn't show up for the first shift of the game.

The IceDogs franchise, an expansion team then in Mississauga the year the 67's won their most recent Memorial Cup, wouldn't have had the same push back that year as they did on Saturday, taking a 4-2 lead into the midway point of the third period.

The 67's did heavily outshoot the IceDogs on throwback day, though it was a far cry from the 74-9 shot clock they had during their 1999 meeting (the 67's won 11-1 that night).

Of course, a lot has changed since then.  The two teams started a bitter rivalry in 2003 with a bloodbath first round playoff series, and have had their share of thrilling playoff series since their relocation to St. Catharines.

With a 6th place Ottawa team and a 9th place Niagara team, Jeff Brown joked, "I don't think we'll be playing them again this year."

Though Brown had a game to prepare himself and his team for, the Ottawa kid in him came out with the glory days brought back to life.

"When I took this job two and a half years ago, that's what I remembered," said the 67's bench boss who mentioned the nostalgia in his 2014 introductory press conference.  "It's nice for all those people to come out and see the old guys."

Once there they were treated to something they wouldn't have seen in the 90's, a 3-on-3 overtime, where Artur Tyanulin danced the Niagara defence and buried a highlight-reel winner.

But the head coach and GM knows there's a lot of work to go.

"It was another tie," he said about picking up a second consecutive win in extra time.

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