Whether it be that the 67’s are a middle-of-the-road team or a squad that happens to get opportune victories against weak division rivals, the Barberpoles are safely a playoff team for the time being.
The powerhouse Kingston Frontenacs notwithstanding, Ottawa boasts a 4-0-0 record against division rivals Peterborough and Belleville, who have combined for only 10 wins in a combined 33 games played.
Where Ottawa once dominated their archrival Kingston for years, the Frontenacs hold the clear edge now, but it isn’t as one-sided as a 67’s season series may have been last season against teams ranked highly in the CHL.
In their last game in October, the Barberpoles came away empty-handed in their best effort of the year, narrowly dropping a 2-1 decision to Kingston.
A year ago, Ottawa surrendered 21 goals against to the CHL’s top-ranked Ontario team, limiting that to eight so far this year. The 67’s dropped a 5-1 decision to the other ranked team in Guelph.
Roughed up defence
Ottawa’s d-core came across hard times when Taylor Davis, Adrian Sloboda and Mike Vlajkov all got hurt.
Somehow, every injury turned into a longer one than expected.
Vlajkov’s surgery is now likely a season-ending one, Sloboda’s gone from a seven-to-10 day injury to a 60-to-90 day, while Davis is likely out for a couple of months.
In picking up local products Ryan Duhaime and Owen Stewart, Ottawa fills out their defence and likely gets what they most needed in Stewart, a defenceman willing to battle in front of his own net.
The Magic Bullet
Joseph Blandisi may have been Ottawa’s only true candidate to take part in the OHL-Russia Super Series, and after being left out, it seems as though he’s trying to stick it to the Ontario team’s selection staff.
Blandisi’s 12 goals in 15 games jumps off the page, but it’s the timing of his goals that mean so much more to the team.
“He’s a clutch player,” said head coach Chris Byrne. “He’s our go-to guy up front. He plays with some grit and some determination, that’s his style.”
Three of his 12 goals have been third period game winning markers, while he tied the Kingston game late in the third period before the team surrendered another lead.
Philippe Trudeau has been the steadying, average netminder Ottawa knew they were picking up from the Quebec league.
Facing over 35 shots a night on average, he’s taken over as starting netminder over Jacob Blair, pulled twice in just five appearances this season.
If Ottawa’s home-heavy start weren’t enough, they return home to play four consecutive home games in nine days. In taking on the likes of Oshawa and London, they’ll get a true taste of taking on contenders.