Ottawa Power Play Sputters as 67’s Split Games on Opening Weekend
Photo courtesy of the Ottawa 67's
Opening weekend could not have been more of a mixed bag for the 67’s. Ottawa opened the 2018-19 OHL season by splitting their first two games at home: a 4-3 thrilling overtime win over the Mississauga Steelheads and a 7-3 thrashing at the hands of the Peterborough Petes.
The 67’s struggled on special teams last season, ranking in the bottom third of the OHL in both power play percentage and penalty kill percentage. Against Mississauga and Peterborough, Ottawa only converted on one of their nine power play attempts this past weekend. Not only that, the 67’s gave up four short-handed goals to the Petes on Sunday afternoon.
“There is nothing wrong with our special teams, it’s our intensity when we’re on the power play. Mistakes will happen, you have to work for it,” said 67’s head coach Andre Tourigny after the loss to the Petes.
On the penalty kill however, the 67’s were perfect, killing off all eight opportunities when playing a man down their first two games.
Friday night’s matchup against the Steelheads was delayed approximately 30 minutes early on due to ‘foggy’ conditions on the ice. The 67s failed to register a shot prior to the first period delay, but seemed to emerge more focused from the break. The offense started to click and Tye Felhaber scored Ottawa’s first goal of the season. However, Mississauga answered back quickly, a theme of the game.
The 67’s took a one-goal lead in the game on three separate occasions, but the Steelheads stormed back to tie it each time. The Felhaber goal was followed up by a goal from Steelhead-newcomer Filip Reisnecker, who poked in the puck from the Ottawa crease less than three minutes later.
The 67’s came back with a score of their own in the second period. Keating setup Graeme Clark wide open in the slot for a wrist shot that beat Steelhead netminder Jacob Ingham. James Hardie scored soon after for Mississauga after a strange bounce off the boards behind Ottawa goaltender Cedrick Andree, but the 67’s responded with the game’s third goal in less than five minutes. Mitchell Hoelscher finished off an incredible passing play involving Felhaber and 67’s defenseman Nikita Okhotyuk by quickly directing the puck off the pass into the net.
That did it for scoring in the second, but Mississauga was able to tie the game in the third period with a Ryan Barbosa shot from the point that was perhaps misplayed by Andree but tipped off the stick by Richard Whittaker for the goal. The teams went scoreless the rest of regulation.
It did not take Austen Keating long to finish it in overtime. With his forehand-to-backhand goal just 55 seconds into the extra frame, Keating tallied his third point of the game and gave Ottawa its first win of the new season.
“It was not a Picasso, but we’re okay. We’ve got two points and we’ll get better everyday,” said Tourigny after the overtime victory.
Sunday afternoon’s performance was even further from a work of art for the 67’s. Ottawa was overwhelmed by the Peterborough Petes, the East Division’s worst-ranked team last season.
The Petes scored the first three goals of the game, all in the opening period. The power play was a disaster for the 67’s, giving up four short-handed goals to Peterborough, including two from Christopher Paquette who finished the game with a hat trick. It was an uphill climb for Ottawa from there on out and they were unable to recover from their poor start.
In defeat, Keating scored his second goal of the weekend and recorded his fourth and fifth points of the young season. There were also a couple of milestones for new 67’s.
Highly touted Austrian prospect Marco Rossi recorded his first two points with Ottawa, both assists, and Matthew Maggio scored his first career OHL goal. Starting goaltender Cedrick Andree was pulled after giving up his fifth goal on twelve shots against the Petes, though many Peterborough opportunities were on odd-man rushes. Rookie backup Will Cranley let in two goals on 13 shots in relief.
“We’re a long way from where we want to be,” said Tourigny.
Peterborough won only five road games all of last season. With the road win over Ottawa and a Thursday home win over Kingston, the 2-0 Petes have outscored opponents 11-3 so far this season.
The 67’s will spend next weekend on the road, travelling for games against the Kitchener Rangers (Friday night), Owen Sound Attack (Saturday night) and Hamilton Bulldogs (Sunday afternoon).