What an up and down decade it was for the Ottawa 67’s. From one of the best teams, to one of the worst teams in the OHL, and back to one of the best. From crushing defeats to incredible victories. There was a little bit of everything for the 67’s since the 2010-11 season, and such is life for a junior hockey team. With the decade coming to an end, it’s time to take a look back at the decade that was for the Ottawa 67’s.
In reading this, you will see some names that you forgot about, others were stars and you will never forget about. For me, this exercise allows me to walk down memory lane and look back at my childhood. I used to go to the games with my Grandfather as a youngster, and that wasn’t that long ago. That’s when my passion for the Ottawa 67’s began. Whether this decade was the beginning of your fandom or you have been a fan for 50 years, it’s always cool to look back at the past and remember.
This article is going to be much bigger than any other that I have done. There will be some facts, some stats, some of my thoughts, and some videos showing some of the things I found while researching.
Without any further adieu, let’s take a look at the decade that was for your Ottawa 67’s!
The 2010-11 edition of the Ottawa 67’s was coming off of a 2nd place finish in the East the prior season (2009-10). The 67’s were a good hockey team around this time and once again finished in second 2nd in the conference. Lead by players like Tyler Toffoli, Shane Prince, Ryan Martindale, and Petr Mrazek, the Ottawa 67’s finished the 2010-11 season with 93 points. Thankfully for Ottawa, the division winners get spots 1 and 2 in each conference, and they finished in second despite being 3 points behind the Niagara Ice Dogs.
Below is the pre-game video that was shown on the score board.
Unfortunately for the 67’s, the playoffs didn’t go according to plan. Despite being more than 30 points better than the Sudbury Wolves, Ottawa lost the series. In fact, they didn’t win a single game. The Ottawa 67’s were swept aside by the 7th seed in the first round of the playoffs. Below is the playoff bracket.
Despite all the great things the 67’s did in the regular season, they failed to do any of it in the post season. This series showed that you can never take your opponent lightly no matter the circumstance. To make matters worse for the 67’s, Mississauga swept Sudbury in the second round of the playoffs. Junior hockey is unpredictable, but this kind of thing just doesn’t happen in the OHL. Normally the top teams in each conference are miles better than their first round opponent, but that clearly wasn’t the case here.
After an incredibly disappointing end to the 2011 playoffs, the 2011-12 Ottawa 67’s set out with the goal of getting back to the playoffs and doing some damage. With redemption on their minds, the Ottawa 67’s once again finished 2nd in the East. Tyler Toffoli reached 100 points, and Shane Prince reached 90 in only 57 games. Here was the regular season pre-game video.
Despite a great regular season, the 67’s were not satisfied. After the disappointment of the past season, there was a desire to get farther. In the first round the 67’s faced the Belleville Bulls. The Bulls weren’t the greatest team ever built, but after getting swept by the 7 seed the previous season there was no excuse. The series started in dream fashion for Ottawa winning the first 2 games. The next 2 games in Belleville would be a problem however. The 67’s dropped games 3 and 4 in overtime and the Bulls tied the series up at 2. Games 5 and 6 belonged to the 67’s, and they would move on the the second round after a hard fought battle against the 7 seed Bulls.
The second round wouldn’t be any easier for the 67’s, and after winning game 1, they would drop 3 straight games to go down 3-1. They could have quit, but they didn’t. The 67’s would take games 5 and 6 by one goal and head back to Ottawa for game 7. With the game going into overtime tied at 3, both teams knew what was on the line. Towards the end of the first overtime period, Brett Gustavsen scored the game winning goal to send the 67’s to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Niagara IceDogs, and this photo was taken.
Even though I was only 11 when this game happened, I will never forget this celebration and the electricity at the then Ottawa Civic Centre. This could be the most iconic photo of the decade for the 67’s, and considering the circumstances, I don’t think there was a better moment either.
The rest of the playoffs didn’t go as Ottawa had hoped, and they were beat in the 3rd round by the IceDogs 4-1. Here is a look at the playoff bracket
Despite things going wrong at the end, this was the best 67’s team Ottawa had until the end of the decade, and this team was a fun one to watch. Of all the time I spent at the arena as a kid, this was my favourite time before right now of course. This era of the 67’s may never have won a championship, but they won me over. They made sure I would be a 67’s fan for life.
The 67’s lost many key players for this season, and also moved to the Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata while renovations were being completed to Lansdowne Park to allow the Ottawa REDBLACKS to begin play in 2014. This was not the most notable thing to happen in this season. The Ottawa 67’s traded captain Cody Ceci, Steven Janes and a 3rd round pick in 2015 to the Owen Sound Attack in exchange for Jacob Middleton and Joe Blandisi. The team was terrible and finished dead last in the OHL with only 38 points. Because of this, the 67’s selected Travis Konency first overall in the draft in the off season. Here is the regular season introduction video
That’s about all there is to say about the 2012-13 season. It’s one to forget about, much like the next season as well. These were some tough times for the Ottawa 67’s.
The Ottawa 67’s would once again finish among the worst teams in the OHL in the 2013-14 season, and that wouldn’t be a huge surprise. The first overall pick from the previous draft (Travis Konecny) would go on to score 70 points in his rookie season and win the rookie of the year award. Konecny is only the 3rd 67 to win the award in team history. Bruce Cassidy won it in 1982-83, and Andrew Cassels won it in the 1986-87 season. The two benefits of this season would be moving back to Lansdowne park at seasons end and drafting Travis Barron with the 3rd overall pick. Here is the regular season introduction video
Once again, another nothing season where the 67’s continue to rebuild after the run they took to begin the decade. Looking back at these season we might be looking into the future for the 67’s, but that’s a topic for another article. Overall, this was yet another season to forget for the Ottawa 67’s.
After the tough season the year before, there was a good video I found on YouTube about the Ottawa 67’s 2014 off season. I will put it below and I recommend you watch it!
At the end of the video, the commentator says “The time for Ottawa to step out of the rebuild and into a contending position is now.” To a certain extent, that’s exactly what they did. Finishing 4th in the East after two dreadful seasons was a superb finish for this group. Despite this finish, the Ottawa 67’s playoff run lasted only 6 games falling to the Niagara IceDogs in the first round. Here’s the full playoff bracket.
It certainly seemed like the rebuild was going according to plan, even after a playoff run that lasted only 6 games. There was reason to be excited about the future. The 67’s were back at home and had their superstar to build around. Everything was going according to plan, or so we thought. The next couple of seasons were going to be a let down, that’s for sure.
The most memorable thing about this season was the blockbuster trade the 67’s completed with the Sarnia Sting. In January, the Ottawa 67’s sent Sam Studnicka and Travis Konecny to the Sting in exchange for 8 draft picks, Chase Campbell, and Sasha Chmelevski. This trade would set up the 67’s future, but not the way everyone expected. Chmelevski who was in his rookie season would become a key piece for the 67’s, but they were sacrificing the present with this trade. It was clear there was no intent to contend in the 2015-16 season, and this trade confirmed that. Despite the trade, the 67’s would still make the playoffs as the 5 seed, and they would once again play the IceDogs. Here is a look at the playoff bracket.
So that was it. Everything the 67’s had been building for with the core of players they had spent many high draft picks on was over. Konecny was shipped off, and good players were wrapping up their junior hockey careers. The team was back in rebuild mode.
This was the season where the rebuild was starting all over again. The 67’s made a trade for a kid named Tye Felhaber. Players like Kevin Bahl, Kody Clark, Sam Bitten, Mitch Hoelscher, and Quinn Yule all joined the team in this season. The team would only manage a 7th place finish in this season, and you had the felling it would be a few years before they were ready to contend, but the foundation was being built. We didn’t yet know how special this group of young talent the 67’s had would become, but it makes it that much more special for the people who supported this team through the tough times in the middle of the decade. The playoffs were once again short for the 67’s, but atleast they didn’t lose to the IceDogs this time! Here’s the bracket.
This was valuable playoff experience for a young group. The Steelheads were no joke this season either, and to take 2 games from them as the 7 seed wasn’t terrible. The future was once again bright, but it was just a question of when. It is also important to note that the 67’s selected Graeme Clarke with the 6th pick in the OHL priority draft, adding even more talent to the roster.
With a new coach and a developing young core, I expected more from the 67’s in this season. The 67’s made a trade for 3 members of the Steelheads with the most notable name being Merrick Rippon. Development was still key for this young group, but to say I was surprised by an 8th place finish would be an understatement. There was a hope for a better season, but being so bad landed them Cam Tolnai who still hasn’t reached his full potential. This team still made the playoffs, but everyone knew it would be short lived. Here’s the playoff bracket.
Everyone knows what happened the next season, but the road to get there is just as improtant. The Ottawa 67’s selected Marco Rossi in the import draft this year. Things were lining up for a run in the next season, and as we know, that would be exactly what we got.
This was the season. All of the pieces were there. Trades were made to acquire over-agers Kyle Maksimovich and Lucas Chiodo, and also for goaltender Mikey DiPietro. The regular season was record setting. The Ottawa 67’s reached 50 wins for the second time in franchise history. Tye Felhaber fell just 1 goal short of 60. To say the very least, this was one of the best teams the Ottawa 67’s have ever had. They were the regular season champions accumulating 106 points. The most interesting part of this season would be the playoffs.
In the first round of the playoffs the 67’s faced the Hamilton Bulldogs for the second season in a row. This time the roles were reversed. Ottawa was the 1 seed, and the Bulldogs the 8th seed. The Bulldogs proved to be no competition for Ottawa, and the 67’s earned the easy first round sweep. Here’s the series recap.
After the sweep of the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Sudbury wolves were the next in line. The Wolves, led by star forward Quinten Byfield would not be an easy opponent, or so we thought. The 67’s won games 1, 2, and 3 by a large margin. Game 4 would prove to be more difficult. It would take 6 periods to decide the winner. Tye Felhaber would score on the open net in the 3rd overtime period to advance the 67’s to the Eastern Conference Finals where the 67’s would face off against the Oshawa Generals. Here is the series recap.
The Generals would pose a whole new problem, and there was just no way Ottawa would sweep them too… right? Much like the series with Sudbury, the 67’s had their way with the Generals right until game 4. The 67’s didn’t manage to tie the game at 1 until the very end of the third period, and everyone knows about the overtime goal to send them to the OHL finals. This was one of my favourite sports moments of the decade. You will see a shot of the fans at Jack Astors in the next video, and I was there. The emotions we all felt were electric, and it was by far one of the best things I have ever witnessed.
The finals. Something I have been waiting for since I was a young boy. My team was there and had serious Memorial Cup hopes. Game 1 was easy, and Ottawa won game 2 as well. The series was 2-0 Ottawa, and I remember thinking that Ottawa was going to do it. They had it in the bag. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Guelph won the next 2 games to tie the series at 2. We knew going into game 5 Ottawa needed to win it or the series was over. They seemed defeated and couldn’t regain control of the series. Guelph won in 6 games. The dream was crushed. The very same night the series ended, Kawhi Leonard hit the infamous shot in game 7 against the Philadelphia 76ers, and I felt none of it. I was devastated. I had never felt a sports heartbreak quite like this one.
It’s not until recently that I can look back on this and remember just how fun it was. It still stings to this day about how it ended, but it is something I will remember forever. Having the team as good as it is this season certainly helps, but it needs to get done now. The job isn’t over, and Ottawa wants this OHL championship and Memorial Cup.
No matter if you are a fan for life or someone who hopped on the bandwagon last season, one thing is for sure. We all enjoyed the ride, and it was the most fun we have had with the Ottawa 67’s for a long time.
The 67’s are currently at the Christmas break, and you can keep up to date on the season by following my weekly preview + weekly review article. As we sit right now, the 67’s are in a battle with the Peterborough Petes for first place in the Eastern Conference, but have the best point percentage of any club in the OHL. If that trend continues, they will win the East and once again be the regular season champions.
Joe Garreffa has been one of the best players on the 67’s roster to this point. Garreffa is averaging 1.95 points per game, and he has changed the way the 67’s play. He has been one of the most under-rated pick ups by 67’s GM James Boyd since he became the GM of the team. There is still plenty of work to do for this version of the 67’s, but another trip to the OHL finials appearance seems highly possible.
Enjoy the rest of this season, things will be different in the next couple of years.
I hope you have enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I have. What is your favourite 67’s moment of the decade? Let me know on Twitter @FrankieVideo! Have a very happy holidays and enjoy some time with family and friends. I hope to see you at the arena at TD Place in 2020!