Ottawa 67’s veteran forward Cameron Tolnai having a dominant season.
Since the puck dropped on a new regular season, Ottawa 67’s veteran forward Cameron Tolnai has been simply dominant.
Approximately six weeks into Tolnai’s overage season, the 20-year-old finds himself leading the 67’s with 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists). Tolnai, who as a 16-year-old was drafted in the 2018 draft, first round, sixth overall by the 67’s, definitely made OHL scouts take notice as he was coming off a monster season with the Oakville Rangers U16 AAA team, which saw him produce 31 goals and 80 points in 35 games.
“It’s a tremendous honour,” Tolnai reminisced about being drafted and playing for the 67’s. “My dad is from Ottawa, and my grandma taught in Ottawa. I would always hear about the (67’s) history. Coming to camp (in the first year), I was learning from the older players. It was just a tremendous honour.”
Reflecting on his OHL career, Tolnai has many special memories, including his rookie season when the 67’s embarked on a memorable playoff run. During that run, a special moment that Tolnai reflected on took place April 11, 2019, when in triple overtime, Tye Felhaber scored the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Game 4 series winner in a historic 3-2 win against the Sudbury Wolves.
This triple-overtime game lasted 110 minutes and 15 seconds and was the longest game ever played in franchise history. “I was in the stands,” Tolnai said. “I remember the joy and excitement. Being around the guys and the friendships from that year.”
Tolnai’s rookie season saw Ottawa top the Eastern Conference with 50 wins before eventually losing to the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League finals. As a rookie, he played 56 regular season games, producing three goals, 13 points, and 13 penalty minutes. That spring during the post-season, he scored a goal in four games.
“It was a culture shock playing against guys three or four years older,” Tolnai said about adjusting as a rookie to the OHL. “It was my first time living away from home. There is a size difference and a difference in skill. In minor hockey, you can get away with stuff. In the OHL, if your head is down, you can get hit pretty good.”
During his sophomore season, Tolnai played a big role in what was truly a historic season for the 67’s, which saw the 2019/20 team record a franchise-best winning percentage at .815 and 50 wins, which was accomplished in only 62 games before COVID cancelled the remainder of the season.
In describing himself as a player, Tolnai expressed that he models his game after Philadelphia Flyers forward Sean Couturier. “I go to the net well, and I have good vision on the ice,” Tolnai said. “I’m a two-way player who is good on faceoffs and can score goals.”
Last season, Tolnai had a breakout season that saw him produce 10 goals and 44 points, along with 23 penalty minutes. During playoffs, he scored one goal and three points in Ottawa’s first-round loss against the North Bay Battalion.
The 67’s couldn’t have asked for a better start to this season as they have made a bold statement by sprinting out of the gates with nine straight wins before dropping a 5-3 decision on October 28th against The Peterborough Petes.
“No one could have expected that we would have a 9-0 start,” Tolnai said. Regarding that first loss, he went on to add, “This was a test for us. We know where we went wrong. We weren’t the sharpest on special teams.”
Incredibly since that loss, Ottawa won another nine in a row until having the streak snapped on November 21st when at the Erie Insurance Arena, they dropped a 6-4 decision against the Erie Otters.
Reflecting on the current winning streak, the biggest win arguably came on November 5th when the 67’s got some sweet revenge by defeating Peterborough in the rematch at TD Place by a 4-2 score.
“Definitely, that was a big game,” Tolnai said. “That was a benchmark game. To make it far, we’ll probably have to play them. We’re a confident team, and we have a great game plan.”
That confidence is evident in their performance as Tolnai looks to end his OHL career with the 67’s with a Memorial Cup. “At the end of the day, I just want to help the team win. There are lots of guys in their last year with Ottawa.”
So far, it’s been a heck of a season for Tolnai, who individually is on pace for his best season.
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