If Jacob Blair’s goals against average continues to hover between 3.00 and 4.00, it appears as though the Ottawa 67’s are prepared to let him take over the reins in net, having made a pair of moves this week that seem to solidify the Kanata native’s fate.
Ottawa moved out Clint Windsor, the goalie who played his way onto the roster with an exceptional training camp and preseason, and are currently still waiting for another team to take a flyer on him.
Meanwhile, they picked up another overage netminder, Philippe Trudeau from the Val D’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL.
Windsor is hoping to be dealt within the OHL to one of the Guelph Storm, Sarnia Sting, or Windsor Spitfires, the same team that drafted his brother in 2004.
It was somewhat peculiar to not see Windsor, seemingly the clear-cut starter out of training camp, sit out the opening weekend, but there seemed to be a simple explanation for it.
The 67’s opened the season against Belleville, a team that Blair defeated a week earlier in an exhibition game.
Blair was shaky on opening night, but did enough in the last 25 minutes to hold his team in it while they mounted a comeback.
On Sunday, Blair got the nod again, with head coach Chris Byrne simply explaining, “He won on Friday, we gave him another chance today.”
The story shouldn’t have been goaltending after two games, Blair let in some weak goals and recovered to make some key saves, but rather the spotlight should’ve been on -- and was on before the goaltending controversy – first overall pick Travis Konecny.
The top rookie had two assists in his first game, two goals in his second game, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Ottawa’s success in the preseason was thanks to early solid goaltending, and not surrendering early leads.
In each of the first two games, Ottawa fell behind by two, came back to tie it 2-2, before falling back into a 4-2 deficit.
Last season, these types of games would’ve likely been over after 40 minutes. Teams would run blow the game open or play stingy enough defence to keep Ottawa under ten shots.
On Friday, they put 18 shots on Charlie Graham in the final frame and cracked him three times, with Joseph Blandisi netting the winner.
“We kept it positive and we knew we could come back, so we went out there and did it with hard work and driving the net,” said Blandisi after their comeback win on Friday. “Lots of positivity in the dressing room between periods.”
Sunday, they put 11 shots on Jake Smith, just falling short in a 4-3 loss.
The 67’s continue their homestand this weekend taking on Plymouth and Niagara, two teams that have yet to register a win.
Jonathan Duchesne will be back in the lineup from his suspension and will be relied upon as Ottawa’s top stay-at-home defender.
Whether Duchesne singlehandedly brings down the Barberpoles’ goals against per game, or the young Blair continues to grow, is yet to be seen.
However, if neither of those pan out as expected, it’s possible Ottawa will be forced to come from behind in third periods a lot this upcoming season.
Exciting for fans, perhaps, but not likely to please Chris Byrne.