March 30, 2017

Round 1 Game 4: 67's on the ropes after fight night

A year ago this time, the 67’s had suffered a hearbreaking overtime loss to carry a 3-1 deficit into a gruelling fifth game on the road, with veteran players proclaiming that it “felt like an elimination game”.

Fast forward and they’re in an eerily similar position, losing a fourth game on home ice and losing the captain to injury just as they did in the 2016 post-season dance, albeit more violently. 

“There's a lot of things I'm not happy about, but a lot of things I can’t talk about,” said Jeff Brown, weary of the line crossed by the Windsor Spitfires earlier this week.  “I don’t want to be fined.”

“You saw (the injury), it’s not good.”

During a second-period linebrawl instigated by a frustrated Ottawa team, Nic Hague delivered a vicious suckerpunch on Travis Barron, leaving the 67’s leader bloodied and visibly injured.

Already down 4-1, the Barberpoles took exception to Chris Martenet being taken out hard behind the net by Michael McLeod, who had danced around their defence all night long to go along with his physical edge.

From there, the mayhem spilled into the neutral zone.

The injury didn’t kill the 67’s hopes, a Pat White shorthanded goal in the third brought them to within one and put a jolt into the home side.

But McLeod answered right back, and Nathian Bastian converted on a set faceoff play to double the score to 6-3.

Ottawa became further unglued, throwing about a series of countless slashes, butt-ends and jabs at the Steelheads who refused to engage.

Zack Dorval, first on the scene with McLeod in the dust-up earlier, shadowed him the entire third and got in his face.

“We’re just trying to get in his head, take his game away and take his offence away,” added Dorval.

The 67’s most likely limp into game five likely without Kyle Auger for his part in the middle-frame melee, and Ryan Orban, whose leg crumpled underneath him trying to take out Bastian at the Ottawa bench late.

Noel Hoefenmayer scored again to make it look a little better on the scoreboard, while Leo Lazarev, who struggled with rebounds to start the night, rebounded with a 28-save performance to at least give his team a chance.

“We’re not looking at winning three in a row, we’re looking at a win tomorrow night,” said Brown, who wanted his team to rehash past playoff comebacks as inspiration for Friday night.  “We’ve won three already there this year.”

“We’re excited for the opportunity to win a game five in Mississauga.” 

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