67’s Earn Four of Six Points, Coach Brown Unimpressed
The difference a single weekend makes at this stage of the Ontario Hockey League season is incredible.
Just last Thursday, the Ottawa 67’s were a team scratching and clawing for their playoff lives. Then, following an ugly 4-0 loss in Kingston on Friday night, Jeff Brown’s team appeared to be free-falling into the depths of a playoff dogfight.
Fast forward to Sunday night, and Ottawa — a 4-3 comeback win over Kingston and 3-1 victory over last-place Barrie later — sits four points clear of ninth-place North Bay. Both the 67’s and Battalion have six games remaining, Ottawa has suddenly won four of its last six, and Brown’s team can now focus more on earning a favourable matchup than merely fighting for a playoff spot.
Yet the 67’s head coach was near-apoplectic following his team’s 3-1 win over Barrie on the back end of a three-in-three weekend.
“It was a pathetic effort tonight,” said Brown following Sunday’s contest. “Yeah, we won, but it was our worst effort of the weekend — guys are more worried about their personal stats than the team winning — it was disgusting.”
While the 67’s earned four of six points on the weekend, their final game of the weekend against cellar-dwelling Barrie could well have been a loss were it not for the heroic 31-save performance of goaltender Leo Lazarev.
“They (Barrie) played in Peterborough last night, (against) the best team in the East, got in at 3 o’clock this morning with ten forwards — (our) three-in-three is not an excuse,” harped Brown in his post-game presser. “If you can’t stay on the defensive side, if you can’t angle or get a stick in the lane, you can’t play at this level — you have to evolve.”
The team’s young blueline was caught out a number of times over the weekend, only to be bailed out regularly by Lazarev.
It was Ottawa’s steadier defencemen that struggled Sunday, forcing the pairing of 6-foot-7 overager Chris Martenet and diminutive Kyle Auger to rise to the occasion and munch big minutes for Brown’s club.
Ottawa will be back in action Thursday night against the first-place Peterborough Petes (7:05 p.m., TD Place Arena).
67’s Local Report
Orleans-native Mathieu Foget continued his blistering pace with five points (2G, 3A) on the weekend…Assistant captain and Orleans-native Patrick White had an assist in Saturday’s win, and was also a key on the team’s penalty kill…Rookie Sam Bitten (Gloucester) saw limited ice time in his first call-up since early January…Forward Tye Felhaber (Pembroke) had the cast removed from his injured wrist and is expected to return to the Ottawa lineup next weekend.
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