The Ottawa 67's began making up ground as they try to climb out of the league and conference's basement, taking four of a possible six points in a three-game weekend. Tyler Graovac had a goal in each of the games to total four on the weekend. Graovac's linemate also got in on the action, as Taylor Fielding has matched his previous career-high by getting to four goals on the year. The 67's are now out of last in the OHL with a record of 3-6-0-0.
Thursday: Ottawa 4, Niagara 3
Friday: Ottawa 2, Mississauga 3
Sunday: Ottawa 6, Kitchener 2
Ottawa blew a two-goal lead on Thursday in St. Catharines, but a pair of goals from Jake Cardwell lifted them to their first road win of the year. Cardwell, Graovac and Steven Janes helped the Barberpoles get out to a 3-1 lead after two before the IceDogs came back firing. Mitch Theoret and Mike Robinson scored in the first six minutes of the third to tie the game, but Cardwell's powerplay market late in the third lifted them to victory.
Keegan Wilson, returning from injury, started the first two games of the weekend, and got shelled early on Friday. Dylan Smoskowitz had a pair of early goals to put Ottawa behind by their all-too-usual 2-0 deficit, and Trevor Carrick added another before the first period was out.
Steelheads netminder Spencer Martin looked shaky on many occasions during the night, but Ottawa simply didn't put enough pucks on net to take advantage. Remy Giftopoulos and Graovac had powerplay markers to bring their team back into it, but it was too little too late. The 67's fell back into last place in the OHL with a 3-2 loss.
The team got off to another rough start against Kitchener on Sunday, but eventually got their feet under them in front of their loudest crowd of the season. Despite not registering a shot until nearly seven minutes in and falling behind two goals in the first, a second-period slew of goals lead the Barberpoles to their third win of the year.
Richard Mraz was credited with his first career goal with Cardwell's shot bouncing off his skate and in before the first was out. In the second, Fielding and Graovac added a pair of goals and Brett Gustavsen also tallied, giving the 67's all the offence they would need in a 6-2 blowout.
"(Fielding's) been getting me the puck in the middle of the ice, he's great on the walls," said Graovac of his linemate Fielding. "We saw some skill in him offencively, and I think for him and our team, the biggest lift is that he plays so solid and so sound," added Head Coach Chris Byrne on the defenceman-turned-forward.
Byrne further commented on his team's effort level, saying "there've been some bounces and tough mistakes we've had in the first part of the season that are costing us games and it was nice to see our guys play a complete game today. I thought that our guys worked hard in the second period and gave us a chance to win the game."
Ryan Shipley finally received his wish this week. After heading home for the second time to await a trade, Shipley was united with his brother Steven after being dealt to the Niagara IceDogs. As of right now, Niagara gives up a 15th round pick in 2014. That changes to a 5th in 2015 should Shipley play more than 30 games next season. Sticking with the blueline, Sean Callaghan returned to the lineup on Sunday afternoon. He had his foot stepped on after a fight with Austen Brassard of the Bulls in Ottawa's first road game.
The 67's head back on the road now, playing games in Barrie and Owen Sound this weekend before returning home next Wednesday.