The Ottawa 67's have lost three games in a row since wrapping up their trade deadline moves, and although bringing players into a losing culture is never good, this team is showing promise of potential as they play for jobs going into next year.
The team was been outscored 17-6 this past week, and given the strength of their opponents, it was to be somewhat expected.
With a lineup full of new faces, including John Urbanic, who was acquired from the opposing Generals on game day, the 67's dropped a 2-0 decision to Oshawa on the strength of two goals from Boone Jenner.
Despite going up against a pair of top teams in the West, Chris Byrne felt before the Sarnia-London road trip that it would be key to build team chemistry and familiarity amongst the coaching staff and players.
"It'll be a good trip to get everybody knowing each other and I think feeling it out a little bit as far as who's what," he said. "We'll play some tough teams and that's not a bad thing either."
Facing the OHL's top team hit Ottawa harder than expected early on Friday night. London jumped out to a 6-0 first-period lead, quickly taking the visitors out of the game.
Ottawa managed to make a game of it. Newcomer Mark Petaccio potted his first two goals as a Barberpole and Sean Monahan added a pair with his new linemates Sergey Kuptsov and Joseph Blandisi.
"I think it'll be a feeling out process a little bit, just figuring out where guys are going to be in different systems," said the head coach about his new top line. "It'll take some time, but I think there's enough talent there to make it work."
The 67's made things interesting, but every time they scored, London seemed to have an instant response. The Knights took the decision 10-5.
Saturday night's affair was no easier task for Ottawa. Again, they gave up five consecutive goals to start the game. Sarnia had taken a five-goal lead, with four goals from Reid Boucher, before Ottawa was able to answer. Dante Salituro scored the long goal for Ottawa late in the third period.
One night after pulling starting netminder Clint Windsor, who allowed five goals on 17 shots in London, Byrne decided to allow Blair to stay in on Saturday after allowing five tallies.
Blair stopped 52 of 62 shots in just over 100 minutes of work this weekend, as the 67's hope for their rookie netminder to get more comfortable between the pipes.
Ottawa now has a three-game homestand, taking on former teammate Michael Nishi and the Guelph Storm on Friday, former teammates Cody Ceci and Steven Janes on Sunday when Owen Sound comes to town, before a mid-week re-match with the London Knights.