67’s Stumble on the Road, Closeout Weekend With Back-to-Back Defeats

Photo courtesy of Ottawa 67's

The Ottawa 67’s remain on top of the Eastern Conference but slight stumbles occur to even the most dominant of teams. In a rare occurrence, Ottawa dropped two straight games to closeout a weekend road trip.

The week started off on a positive note, with the 67’s making deadline deals for experienced forwards Kyle Maksimovich (from the Erie Otters) and Lucas Chiodo (from the Barrie Colts).

They than began their weekend slate with a forceful 10-2 victory over the Sarnia Sting. In the Friday night matchup, the 67’s scored four goals on only six shots.

Despite the final score, it remained competitive after the opening frame. The Sting fell behind 2-0 with 67’s goals from Sam Bitten and Marco Rossi but found the net on back-to-back power plays to draw even heading into the first intermission.

It did not take Ottawa long to run away with the game in the final 40 minutes. Tye Felhaber scored 38 seconds into the second period, a period in which the 67’s scored four times. All in all, nine Ottawa players scored a goal in the win.

Felhaber scored two goals and two assists, while d-man Noel Hoefenmayer finished with a goal, assist and a +5 rating. Rossi and Bitten each tallied three points as well. Ottawa goaltender Cedrick Andree only faced 17 shots and picked up the win.

On Saturday, Ottawa took on the Western Conference-leading London Knights in a battle between the OHL’s two best teams. The Knights came away with a close 5-3 victory.

London’s Connor McMichael opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period and then followed it up with an even strength mark in the second.

The 67’s broke through in the second period with a goal from a sorely missed star. Sasha Chmelevski scored in his first game back from his duty with Team U.S.A. at the World Juniors. Then Kyle Maksimovich, the brand-new acquisition, scored early in the third period to tie the game. The line of Maksimovich, Chmelevski and Kody Clark came up huge against London.

The Knights scored twice in the following two and a half minutes to retake the lead. Sam Bitten scored soon after that to cut the lead back to one but Ottawa was unable to score that crucial fourth goal to force overtime.

They had an opportunity late on the power play but the Knights held their own on the p.k. and scored an empty netter to clinch the London win. Ottawa went 0/4 on the power play against the Knights.

The 67’s got the best of the Knights in their only other meeting this season, a 2-1 overtime thriller in Ottawa back in October. The league’s top two scoring teams will not meet again unless they both make a run through their respective conferences in the playoffs to the OHL Final.

The next day, Ottawa lost their second straight game for the first time in a month. The Guelph Storm’s offense completely overwhelmed the 67’s. Guelph outshot Ottawa by 13 and blew them out 8-4.

The lead was 3-0 for the Storm after the opening frame. Guelph’s Isaac Ratcliffe notched a hat trick and an assist in a four-point effort and Nick Suzuki assisted on four Storm goals.

The 67’s did score on both of their power plays opportunities and Jack Quinn scored a short-handed goal in defeat. Felhaber finished with a goal and an assist.

Ottawa took eight penalties in the game, including a match penalty by Kody Clark. He was tossed from the game in the third period for a slew foot.

Michael DiPietro started in net both Saturday and Sunday, his first starts with the 67’s since returning from his time with Team Canada. He was pulled on Sunday in the second period after allowing his fifth goal of the afternoon.

The 67’s will have just two games this week, both at home. They will host the Peterborough Petes at TD Place on Friday night and then the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday.