67’s Look to Make Up for Lost Time in OHL Playoffs

Although the 67’s won’t play in front of a hometown crowd during the first round of the playoffs, the barber poles have punched their ticket to the OHL postseason.

The 67’s are on pace to be the number one seed in the Eastern Conference but will play in unfamiliar territory to start the playoffs. Ottawa will be pushed out of TD Place Arena due to scheduling conflicts with the Men’s World Curling Championships. Ottawa will still get home-ice advantage but will play games 1, 2 and 5 at the Slush Puppie Centre in Gatineau, Quebec. If their first round series ends up needing 7 games, Ottawa will return home to TD Place for the decisive match up.

It is only a short 14KM drive between the two arenas and fans should have no issues reaching the arena, but Ottawa will miss the local atmosphere that engrosses Lansdowne Park every time there is a 67's game.

It’s a new group of 67’s but the city and organization can still remember the painful loss in 2019. The 67’s were up 2-0 in the OHL Cup, only for the Guelph Storm to win four straight games and shock the Ontario Hockey League. Since that loss, the 67’s have missed two playoff runs due to COVID-19 and last season, Ottawa were bounced in the opening round.

Ottawa has a ton of potential for this season and sports betting sites are taking notice. Bookmakers hold Ottawa to a high standard as the 67’s have some of the shortest odds displayed on betting sites in Canada. Ottawa has the best odds of any Eastern Conference team and are (really) only rivaled by the Windsor Spitfires and London Knights in the Western Conference to win the OHL Cup. Of course, the championship trophy isn’t awarded by bookmakers’ odds. The 67’s know all-too-well that an underdog has every right to claim the trophy as they do.

In 2019, the Guelph Storm were the 4th seed in the Western Conference, while the 67’s were the number one team in the Ontario Hockey League.

Every season is special but for Dave Cameron’s squad, the 67’s are built differently this year. Five 67’s (Matier, Mintyukov, Beck, Boucher, Roher) are NHL draft picks. Meanwhile, names such as Morrison, Tolnai, Pinelli, Stonehouse and McKenzie are all positively impacting the 67’s on any given night, making scouts notice them and are draft pick hopefuls as well. Not done there, the 67’s are building for the future in the present with defenseman Henry Mews logging minutes in Ottawa.

Mews will celebrate his 17th birthday before the OHL playoffs begin but the kid who grew up playing AAA for Ottawa Myers Automotive has been a standout on the Ottawa blueline. Mews’ domination with the Toronto Jr. Canadians has transitioned well to Major Junior hockey and he has eyes set on the NHL draft, much like his older teammates.

This team is built for a championship run but regular success means nothing once the fat has been trimmed. Playoff hockey is vastly different and although Ottawa will start the playoffs in another province, the 67’s are determined to represent the OHL at the Memorial Cup in Kamloops.

Dave Cameron knows what it’s like to win at the highest levels but is still searching for the big one. The former Ottawa Senators head coach only reached the first round with the big club (once) and during his time in the OHL, Cameron has failed to win a league championship. The Memorial Cup final loss (on home ice) in 2011 is on his mind. That same year, Cameron’s St. Michael’s Majors were bounced in the OHL Cup final to the Owen Sound Attack. A tough string of bad luck for Cameron has him ready to capture everything he once missed out on at the Major Junior level. Cameron has helped Canada win gold at the World Juniors championship, a testament to his teachings as a professional but two previous losses sting more than they should.

Now is the perfect time for Cameron and the 67’s to make up for lost time. Lessons learned in previous defeats and missed opportunities has the team hungrier than ever to reach the top of junior hockey.

A heartbreaking finals loss; two seasons cancelled due to COVID-19 and a first-round exit last season means the upcoming OHL playoffs are personal not only for the players, but for the organization itself.

Photo: Courtesy OHL