Ottawa 67’s Luca Pinelli off to a solid start

The Ottawa 67’s, following last year’s first-round playoff exit, feel like they have some unfinished business.

Reflecting on last April’s playoff series loss against the North Bay Battalion, 67’s forward Luca Pinelli replied, “Last year losing in the first round, it definitely gave us (heading into the new year) a little fire.”

Ottawa couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season, as they have jumped out to a franchise best 9-0 and currently occupy first place in the OHL’s East Division.

According to Pinelli, “Last year, we were a little young. We have most of the guys back, and we used last year the same systems, so we’re used to it.”

Pinelli, drafted second round, 28th overall in 2021 by the 67’s, is coming off a rookie season that saw him produce 14 goals and 36 points in 59 games. So far, the Stoney Creek, Ontario native, who stands at 5’9” and weighs 165 pounds, is coming into his own. After nine games, the promising left winger has scored 5 goals and 11 points, along with a +7 plus/minus rating.

This is a big year for the 17-year-old who is looking to make a huge statement as he will be eligible for next summer’s 2023 NHL Entry Draft.

“I don’t look at the rankings, Pinelli said in reference to the player’s rankings for the 2023 NHL draft. “I’ve done surveys for some teams. I would be happy with any team. Any team, I would be more than honoured.”

Last summer, Pinelli showed tremendous discipline and had specific goals during his workouts. “I focused on strengthening my lower body,” Pinelli said. “I’m looking to get stronger.”

In evaluating his overall game, Pinelli believes he plays a similar style to Leafs forward Mitch Marner and Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

So far, there have been quite a few early season achievements for Pinelli, including being part of Ottawa 67’s history.

Playing at home on Sunday, October 16th, Pinelli earned an assist as they doubled up on the Guelph Storm for a 6-3 win, which gave this proud 67’s franchise their first 6-0 start ever to a season.

“We’re just staying focused,” Pinelli said. “We’re all motivated and looking to keep it going.”

Perhaps the greatest thrill for Pinelli in this young season occurred on Friday, October 7th at TD Place in front of the home fans; he played for the first time against his older brother Francesco Pinelli in a 5-3 win against the Kitchener Rangers.

“We knew the schedule,” the younger Pinelli said about the anticipation for this game. “It was cool to play against him. We were both looking forward to it, but it was weird seeing him on the ice.”

Luca Pinelli earned a couple of assists while his older brother Francesco, the Rangers’ captain, had two goals.

During the off-season, these two brothers spend their time training together.

“It’s nice to have him push me. He gives me advice about what to do in certain situations and staying calm.”

Asked about whether they talked during the game, Pinelli stated, “We didn’t say too much.”

While all regular season wins are big, perhaps the most satisfying one came 24 hours later when on Saturday, back home at TD Place, the 67’s got some revenge on the Battalion by earning a 4-1 win.

The future is definitely bright for Pinelli, who is now focused on helping the Ottawa 67’s win the Memorial Cup.