Thursday night could be quite the shock for the young, 5-5-0 Ottawa 67’s. For the first time this year, they head on a road trip more than two hours from Ottawa.
Of course, another year of home-away-from-home in Kanata doesn’t give the most homely feel, and their trip to nearby Kingston to play the powerhouse Frontenacs wasn’t exactly welcoming.
But when the Barberpoles head to the unfriendly confines in Niagara, it’ll officially spell the end of a ten-game run where they played nine times at home, a very lucky start to the schedule.
If it weren’t for a stroke of luck, chances are they wouldn’t even be at .500 now.
On Thanksgiving Sunday, the 67’s erased a late 3-1 deficit before giving up a weak goal, only to have Travis Konecny tie it and win it in the shootout.
The victory over Sudbury marked the second consecutive Sunday in which Ottawa was well outshot but prevailed in a shootout.
“If the guy quit at 3-1 or 4-3, we don’t get a chance to win, so kudos to them,” said head coach Chris Byrne.
Ottawa kicked off their week with a victory over exceptional status defenceman Sean Day and the Mississauga Steelheads.
“One of the teams who passed me up, obviously it was a game that I wanted to win so I'm a bit disappointed,” said Day.
Jake Middleton had his biggest game as a 67, lighting a fire under his team with a fight in the first two minutes, putting up an assist and a +2 rating, also on the ice for one of two Ottawa powerplay markers.
Philippe Trudeau made a costly mistake trying to play the puck, leading to the opening goal for the Steelheads, but rebounded perfectly and made 37 saves for the win.
Tyler Hill and Jonathan Duchesne added their first career OHL goals in the winning effort.
On the Friday night, Ottawa got their first glimpse of a CHL-ranked team.
Scott Kosmachuk, who has a history of lighting up the Barberpoles, scored two powerplay markers early in the first period to help the Guelph Storm sink the 67’s.
Brendan Bell had the lone goal in a 5-1 loss.
“They’re a good team,” added Byrne about Guelph. “They’re solid, they have a deep team. When we gave them opportunities, they buried the puck.”
Trudeau allowed another four goals in the final game of the week, the fourth of which an extremely weak one, a performance that could give Jacob Blair a look.
“It’s a tight game for a long time, with both goalies making all kinds of saves, then all of a sudden there’s goals both ways, that’s just Junior Hockey,” said Byrne.
Nevin Guy, while he put up a third period goal against Sudbury, struggled immensely on the back-end this weekend, but with Adrian Sloboda going down to injury, Guy’s place is safe until Ottawa trades for a blueliner.
Sloboda is expected to miss a week or two with a high-ankle sprain. Fellow blueliner Mike Vlajkov goes for surgery tomorrow.
Whether the problem is goaltending or a wiltering defence, all signs point to them acquiring another d-man to help out.
In the meantime, Byrne isn’t tipping his hat.
“Good thing we’ve got eight guys,” he said in regards to his defence.