The Ottawa 67’s are one of the best teams in all of Canadian junior hockey. Their current record of 30-9-3-1, substantiate the idea that this season the 67’s are capable of competing for an OHL championship, and beyond that, a Memorial Cup. But how did they get here? It was just one season ago where the 67’s limped into the OHL playoffs only to win one game before being promptly eliminated by the Hamilton Bulldogs. This year the team is different. They can score in droves, they have experienced goaltending, and they have a drive to win. On some nights it even looks as though this Ottawa based hockey team would be capable of outperforming its NHL counterpart, just kidding but not really. In all seriousness, the 67’s are a fun team to watch, so let’s take a look at what makes this team so good, and how they stack up against the rest of the OHL’s elite.
Tye Felhaber, has probably been the biggest revelation on the team this season. As of when this article was written, Felhaber, who leads the league in scoring, has scored 47 goals in the first 43 games of this season, adding 28 assists for 75 points in that span. That’s insane, and on his current pace Felhaber is poised to score 76 goals this season. Unlikely, sure, but nonetheless it’s fun to think about. Last season he was also one of the team’s leading scorers, scoring 70 points in 68 games, but this year Felhaber has kicked it up a level, and his continuous production has been a huge contributing factor to the 67’s success. The undrafted 20-year old is the driving force on Ottawa’s top line, playing alongside Austen Keating and Marco Rossi. Rossi, while being sidelined due to injury for about 15 games, has returned to the lineup and is looking to expand upon his current rookie year totals of 15 goals and 34 points in 28 games. The rest of Ottawa’s offence is rounded out by Sharks prospect and world junior silver medalist Sasha Chmelevski, as well as newly acquired Kyle Maksimovich and Lucas Chiodo. Three great names for three great players. Maksimovich and Chiodo were acquired by the 67’s at the trade deadline for a boatload of draft picks, and with both of them being top 15 scorers in the OHL, they provide the 67’s with nearly unparalleled depth up front.
The 67’s are pretty solid on the back end as well. Hoefenmayer is having a breakout season, scoring at nearly a point per game rate, while fellow Coyotes draft pick Kevin Bahl is an excellent defender who has also proven capable of putting up some points. Goaltending for the 67’s also looks solid. Despite Cedrick Andree putting up a pretty respectable season, boasting a .908 save percentage and a record of 26-4-1-1, the 67’s elected to shore up the goaltending position further and bring in Mike DiPietro from the Windsor Spitfires. The Canadian netminder came to Ottawa with a crisp .920 save percentage, but in three starts for the 67’s, he’s allowed 10 goals and is currently holding an .859 save percentage. That’s in large part due to a recent routing the 67’s received courtesy of the Guelph Storm, and there is going to be an adjustment period for DiPietro get comfortable with his new team. He was traded right before the world juniors, played in the tournament, and has only just recently been able to settle down with the 67’s. The sooner DiPietro starts to play lights out hockey like the way he did at the world juniors, the better. The 67’s need DiPietro to play his game if they are to be viewed as a Memorial Cup favourite, but nevertheless, the 67’s are a solid team on the backend with one of the best goaltending tandems in the OHL.
There are some other teams in the OHL who are also capable of creating some noise in the playoffs. The top threat, is London, because of course it is. The London Knights are almost always in the mix, and thanks to Ottawa losing a few in their last ten, the Knights are currently just one point back of the 67’s for the OHL league lead. So what do the Knights have? A lot. On the blueline, London has the two headed monster of Bouchard and Boqvist, both top 10 picks in the 2018 NHL entry draft. These two defencemen are both scoring more than a point per game this season, and are also very mobile, being effective at both ends of the ice. Up front, Ottawa fans might be familiar with a guy named Alex Formenton. Formenton has blazing speed, or even ‘McDavid like speed,’ as one former Swiss league coach put it. Formenton is fast, and at this level, he also has the finish. Other notable players on the Knights include Hancock, McMichael, and Foudy. Another excellent team is the Ice Dogs. Like the 67’s, Niagara has a deep offence, featuring the like of Akil Thomas, Ben Jones, and Jason Robertson. The blue line is anchored by Matt Brassard, while Stephan Dhillon is the starter backstopping the team to 20 wins in 34 starts. The Greyhounds are another team to watch out for, while the Storm are a dark horse after a major shakeup seeing them acquire Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, along with fellow world junior teammates Markus Phillips and Mackenzie Entwistle.
The 67’s match up rather well against these teams. Ottawa has them all beat in goaltending, and in terms of offence, there isn’t an OHL team out there that outmatches them in that position. London has the edge in defence among all the teams mentioned above, but once again, Ottawa has proven they’re capable of scoring through almost anything. Ultimately, there are some very good teams competing in the OHL this season, and 67’s fans are in for some exciting hockey ahead.
In some closing thoughts, the 67’s are a very good, and a very fun team to watch. It’ll be fun to see how the rest of this season unfolds, and if they can bring home some hardware for Ottawa hockey fans. This season is probably the best chance the 67’s will have at a deep playoff run for a while. Elite scoring from a multitude of players, coupled with top notch goaltending not found anywhere else in the league, give Ottawa an excellent opportunity to win it all this season. Unfortunately, after this season, all of Felhaber, Maksimovich, Chiodo, DiPietro, and Hoefenmayer, among others, will graduate from the OHL to pursue to next stages of their careers. Also they just traded away a lot of draft picks. So the window is now. That being said, players like Rossi and Andree will be hanging around for a little bit longer, and this management group has proven to be effective at recognizing talent and building great teams from nothing. However there’s plenty of time left in this season, and we’re in store for some exciting hockey down the stretch with this group of players in the barberpoles.