Rest Over Rust: Ottawa 67’s Start With Two Straight Wins Following Holiday Break
Photo credit: Ottawa 67's
The Ottawa 67’s returned from their 12-day holiday break with no noticeable signs of rust. On their first weekend back, they rattled off two straight wins against high-ranked opponents. They won by three goals against both the second and fourth-ranked teams in the Eastern Conference.
The team is missing a few key players due to injury and to their obligation to their countries for the World Junior Championship, which is currently taking place in British Columbia.
Who is still on the 67’s roster however during this stretch is the always electric Tye Felhaber. He scored the game-winning goal on Friday against the Niagara IceDogs.
Ottawa beat Niagara 4-1 at TD Place. It was an impressive first game back following the break for the 67’s and not only because the IceDogs are one of the best teams in the OHL. Ottawa scored three consecutive goals in the final period to pull away from an impressive opponent.
Against Niagara, 67’s forward Cameron Tolnai scored his first career OHL goal on a two-on-one opportunity off a pass from Sam Bitten. Tolnai was the sixth-overall pick in this year’s OHL Draft. He had five assists previously this season but it took him 30 games to get goal number one. Tolnai’s reaction post game?
“Finally,” said Tolnai.
His goal was the first of the game and it came all the way with under five minutes to play in the second period. Both teams got off to slow starts offensively, including combining for only 15 shots on goal in the first period.
Niagara’s Philip Tomasino scored early in the third period to tie the game briefly before the 67’s exploded with scoring opportunities. Just 26 seconds after the Tomasino mark, a familiar force made his presence felt.
Felhaber received a pass down low beside the Niagara net and caught the defense sleeping with a quick move in front. He darted towards the goal and knocked the puck in before the IceDog goaltender or defenseman had a chance to react.
Then came insurance goals from Noel Hoefenmayer and Kody Clark to closeout an impressive third period. The 67’s put on the jets and pulled away when it mattered most.
Cedrick Andree was nothing but solid in net against the IceDogs, recording 30 saves and being awarded the first star of the game. Andree won again two days later. He leads the OHL with 22 wins as a starting goaltender.
Then on Sunday, the 67’s travelled to Oshawa to battle the Generals. While Friday’s game against Niagara saw Ottawa finish strong, Sunday in Oshawa saw them get out to a red-hot start.
The 67’s scored twice in the first period and scored the first four goals in the game. It all started with Jesse Dick scoring his first goal of the season in his seventh game appearance with Ottawa. Then came goals from Graeme Clark (on the power play), Kody Clark and Noel Hoefenmayer (on the power play).
That four-goal span extended into the beginning of the third period and it took Oshawa 45 minutes of game time to finally find the back of the Ottawa net. They finally broke through with goals from Mathieu Franche (his first of the season) and Serron Noel (his 22nd).
With two straight goals, a General comeback was briefly mounted but Hoefenmayer hit the empty net to keep the 67’s comfortably ahead for good. Hoefenmayer scored three goals in the two games this weekend.
The game got chippy at the end, with multiple roughing calls on both teams and a fight involving Bitten and Oshawa’s Mitchell Brewer.
Both Clarks (Kody and Graeme) made an impact for the 67’s in their respective returns from injury, while star Austrian rookie Marco Rossi remains out.
From Ottawa to the World Junior Championships, Michael DiPietro is the starting goalie for currently undefeated Team Canada and Sasha Chmelevski has a goal and an assist for Team USA.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 30, 2018
They will return to the Ottawa lineup following the tournament’s conclusion this month.
The 67’s are back to action tonight in Niagara and then they will host weekend games against the Barrie Colts (Saturday) and Oshawa Generals (Sunday).