Backed by a boisterous booster club, the Ottawa 67's made their way into the GTA for a pair of games in Barrie and Brampton, splitting the two.
Saturday: Barrie 5, Ottawa 2
Sunday: Brampton 5, Ottawa 6 (SO)
After a disheartening loss on Saturday night, it was almost fitting that a gusty effort from the 67's would feature two of the best games on the year for Sergey Kuptsov, the most recent acquisition by Ottawa, and Cody Ceci, who was playing in his last game with the team.
In the dying seconds of the game, Ceci, with a goal and an assist already on the day, fired a shot from the point, tipped in by Kuptsov, his second goal of the game to go along with an assist. Ceci then scored the lone goal in the shootout as Jacob Blair, brought in after Clint Windsor was pulled in the first, shut the door.
Ceci was traded the next day, along with Steven Janes, to Owen Sound for Joseph Blandisi and Jake Middleton. They also made another pair of deals, acquiring Mark Petaccio from Sault Ste. Marie and sending Remy Giftopoulos to Windsor.
Ottawa's last game before the last of the firesale saw them come back from a pair of two-goal deficits to sink the Battalion 6-5. Taylor Fielding and Michal Cajkovsky also added markers in the win.
Their first game of the road trip wasn't so kind. Even without Anthony Camara and Mark Scheifele, Barrie was able to ruin Kuptsov's debut as a 67.
Mike Vlajkov opened the scoring on the powerplay, but in the end it would be special teams that would come back to bite the Barberpoles.
Josh MacDonald scored shorthanded off of a broken play by the 67's man advantage, and although Fielding re-gained the lead for Ottawa, Barrie would add two more powerplay markers before the period was out.
In the third, Windsor couldn't hold his team in the game any longer. Tyson Fawcett and Brendan Lemieux put the game away midway through the final frame.
Ottawa (12-27-0-3) are tied with Peterborough for last place, although with two games in hand, the Petes are still ahead in the standings.
Chris Byrne has told the media that while they may not be done trading, this will be the last of players being shipped out of town.
That makes it appear as though overaged import Michal Cajkovsky is safe. Being a 6'4 tough guy on a rebuilding team can be effective, especially when Cajkovsky still has a clean slate on his fight card (his fight vs. Darcy Greenaway was assessed four minutes for roughing and his fight with David Perklin was instigated by Perklin).
With the Sudbury Wolves selling today, there is an outside chance that the 67's sneak into eighth place. But for a 67's team playing their first year out of "the Bank", they aren't banking on anything this year. The obvious approach is to start being a top team next year as they build towards their return to the Civic Center.