After a 3-0-0 pre-season in which the Ottawa 67's were the OHL's only undefeated team, the rebuilding Barberpoles came back down to earth with a pair of home losses to start the 2012-13 season and their new era at Scotiabank Place.
Thursday, September 20th vs. Barrie - Barrie 6, Ottawa 4
Saturday, September 22nd vs. Peterborough - Peterborough 4, Ottawa 3
Much alike the NHL team that played at Scotiabank Place last season, the 67's have quickly developed a tendency to fall behind early in games. Anthony Camara had the Colts ontop 1-0 just 4:13 into Thursday's game, while the Petes had opened up a three-goal lead by the five and a half minute mark on Saturday on what Head Coach Chris Byrne described as "a couple of quick, bang-bang, bad plays, leaving wide open guys."
Byrne also noted that although his team made a solid effort to come back in both games, they don't have the quick-strike ability that they had last year. "I think some of the guys believe that we have the same team as last year. We don't have the ability to score that many goals. Our team this year has to play a different style, we have to do it a different way."
On both nights, the 67's were able to make a game of it, thanks in large part to the dominant play of co-Captains Cody Ceci and Sean Monahan. Monahan opened the scoring for the 67's on Thursday, while Ceci had the team's second marker on Saturday, a 5-on-3 tally after taking a pass from Monahan.
Monahan had two goals and two assists to start his highly touted draft year, although is still a -5 through those two games. Three of his four points were on the powerplay, where he has been at his best. Ceci has a goal and four assists, three of his points coming on the powerplay.
Thursday night, the 67's were able to come from behind to tie the game three different times before a pair of last-minute goals sank them. Remy Giftopoulos finished off a coast-to-coast play by Ceci with a minute and a half left to tie the game at four, before Camara scored his third of the night and Mark Scheifele added an empty netter in the final 45 seconds of regulation.
On Saturday, after giving up the first goal of the game to Peterborough's Zach Lorentz 61 seconds in, Ottawa was never able to draw even. Down 4-3 late in the third, Monahan appeared to score a fluke goal from the neutral zone, but it was ruled that the puck never crossed the line.
If Saturday's rough start wasn't enough to sink the team, the 67's also ran into solid goaltending. Playing in his first OHL start, Michael Giugovaz took over the game in the second period. He finished the night with 39 stops, and was the main reason Ottawa wasn't able to draw even in a second period where they were, at one point, outshooting the Petes by a 3:1 ratio.
In Ottawa's net, Keegan Wilson made a number of impressive, key saves. His nine goals against in these two games, specifically his three goals allowed on the first four shots on Saturday, don't look the best on his stat line. Look for Kanata native Jacob Blair to get his first OHL start next weekend in his hometown as the team plays a pair of home games against Niagara and Erie.
Michael Nishi, who was cut free by the team two weeks ago, was picked up by the team that he made his pre-season debut against this season, the Gatineau Olympiques. He may not even have to change billets with his proximity to the Quebec border.
With Michal Cajkovsky's surprise return to the team, Ladislav Zikmund is on his way back to Europe. In Cajkovsky, Ottawa keeps a big-body defenceman who adds toughness and leadership to a young 67's team. It also gives them a translator for Richard Mraz.
Ryan Shipley is currently in London awaiting a trade from the 67's. Even with the team dressing eight defencemen, he was unable to crack the lineup.