Sean Ryan photo https://www.nugget.ca/sports/local-sports/battalion-stun-67s-6-2
Week 23 review
@North Bay: This game almost got an article of its own for the first time since I started this at the beginning of the season. I won’t even talk about who scored when. Ottawa lost this game 6-2, but it was worse than the scoreline indicated. This was the first time all year long I was embarrassed by the team.
The 67’s thought they were going to walk into the North Bay Memorial Gardens and beat the Battalion without any effort. The Battalion had other ideas.
For me, it starts at the top of this game. Coach Andre Tourigny has received nothing but praise from me since he became the coach three years ago, but on Thursday, he coached the worst game he has since he got the job. This is one of the first times I have been upset with how Tourigny has coached a game. This game, the 67’s played the third and fourth line for the bulk of the minutes, leaving the Rossi, Keating, and Garreffa line playing a fraction of their normal minutes. When a game is out of hand, you can do this, but when you are battling for the win, it confuses me. There have been plenty of games where Ottawa had huge leads and continued to play the big line, but on Thursday night, it looked like Tourigny decided that they weren’t going to be playing big minutes before the game ever started. I love Tourigny as a coach, and I wouldn’t replace him with anyone in the OHL right now, but this is going to be a lesson for him.
The next thing that upset me was the liberties Merrick Rippon took with one of the North Bay players in the third period. It’s not often that I am disgusted by the actions of a member of the 67’s, it’s not something the players do that often, but frustration got the better of Merrick. Merrick Rippon hit a member of the Battalion from behind and was the aggressor in a fight immediately after. An aggressor is different than an instigator and comes with a bigger penalty. Rippon was assessed a five minute major for checking from behind with an automatic game misconduct, five minutes for fighting, and game misconduct for being the aggressor in a fight. The actions Merrick showed on the ice were something that is not a part of the culture the 67’s are trying to build and were dangerous. This is the kind of thing that Andre Tourigny can’t allow to happen again. Merrick knows better. He is one of the veterans on the team and needs to lead by example.
All in all, the 67’s need to be better than this. They are better than this. There are so many more thoughts I have about this game, but I will hold onto them for now. Put that one behind you and move on, and let’s never have another effort like that for the rest of the year. Allow it to serve as a big lesson.
I predicted a 67’s blowout in this game, and I could not have imagined the Battalion would be the ones who dominated. That all being said, my predictions record drops to 40-13
@Sault Ste. Marie: The Ottawa 67’s would bounce back when they took on the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Friday night. It was a homecoming game for a rookie defenceman, Jack Matier, and the 100th career game for Cam Tolnai. It would take only one minute and six seconds for Joe Garreffa to score his first of many on the night, beating Greyhounds goalie Bailey Brkin on a breakaway. The Hounds would answer shortly before the end of the period on a goal of their own by Jaromir Pytlik to send the game to intermission tied at one. The teams would take turns scoring in the second period with Mitch Hoelcher and Joe Garreffa scoring for Ottawa, and Tanner Dickinson and Joe Carroll for the Soo. Austen Keating would score his 29th goal of the year just a minute and seven seconds into the third period to put the 67’s on top 4-3. In the final minute of the game, the 67’s lost control of the puck in their end and couldn’t clog up the middle, and after a pass to the top of the circle, Rory Kerins ripped a shot through a maze of bodies with only 59 seconds left to tie the game at four. The very thing that the 67’s have done to others this year happened to them, and I don’t like being on the other side of it.
Joe Garreffa had himself a night, and in overtime, he completed the hat-trick. Joey G rifled a shot into the back of the net, allowing the Matier family in a suite at the top of the GFL Memorial Gardens to explode in cheers. Ottawa snaps the three-game skid, and my record is now up to 41-13.
Ottawa didn’t dominate this game in the way they have to weaker teams before, but no one is looking for domination right now. Getting back in the win column is big for the 67’s right now. Things could have spiraled out of control very easily, and I am proud of the boys for bouncing back the way they did when it would have been so easy to give up with so many things working against them. This was a big game for Ottawa, and they got the job done.
@Sudbury: I refuse to talk about the officiating in this article, I will save that for another time. The Wolves would score the first goal of the game midway through the second period when Matej Pekar jammed the loose puck past Cedrick Andree. The 67’s would score shortly after to tie the game, but Sudbury wanted a second look at it. After a review, the goal was deemed goalie interference and erased. This was the entirely wrong call. Under no circumstances should it not have counted, but it didn’t. Ottawa couldn’t score a goal before the Wolves added the empty netter and that was the game. I will go off about the officiating in another article when I have more space, but Ottawa drops this game after a brutal travel schedule. I picked the Wolves to win, however, improving my record to 42-12
Vs. Kingston: I’m going to go about this review a little bit differently. The 67’s won this game by a score of 7-3 in front of a sizable 5,639 crowd on Tuesday’s school day game. This game was a brand new feel for the 67’s. Graeme Clarke was back, and the lines were completely different. Here is how the 67’s lined up for the game.
You may be wondering why Garreffa and Clarke are on the third line, and you might think that would hurt their overall production. The small sample size we have of these lines was superb, and I would expect these lines to continue into next week. Doing this allows Andre Tourigny to roll all four of his lines and be able to score at all times during the game. The entire third line (Clarke, Garreffa, and Tolnai) scored in this game. The second line was its usual self in being productive, and the first line looked decent even with Groulx stepping into the hole left by Garreffa.
The Ottawa 67’s are a much different team when Graeme Clarke is on the ice, and this game was encouraging to see. They played the best period of the season in the first period and jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Despite the lax play at times, the 67’s look to have regained their form after a couple of rough weekends. After this game, my record is 43-12.
Here is a look at how the standings for the OHL overall are shaping up. The 67’s are going to have to start winning again if they want to capture their second straight regular-season title. With how things have played out lately, having home ice for the whole playoffs would be a huge boost for the team. With only 12 games left, it’s looking like another 10 or 15 points should be enough, but you can never be too sure.
Week 24 Preview
Vs. Oshawa: The 67’s and the Generals will meet twice over the weekend, and the Generals will be pushing hard to catch the Petes and better their chances at making a deep run into the playoffs. Both the Generals and Petes sit with 69 points on the year, and neither will have an easy round one opponent, but finishing higher will be beneficial in the long run. Expect two great games from the Generals this weekend, but the 67’s have been superb on their ice this season, losing only five games in Ottawa of the 28 played. After finding their form in a convincing win over the Frontenacs, the 67’s should be ready to finish the season strong. With only 12 games remaining, the focus should be on locking down the number one seed in the OHL and getting ready mentally for the run. That is going to start on Friday night when the Generals come to town. The outcomes of the past couple of weeks no longer matter. Focusing on the current situation, the 67’s have a golden opportunity to walk to the regular-season championship. The Generals will be fighting too, but Ottawa is the better team. With the 67’s on home ice and with Graeme Clarke back, there is little doubt in my mind that the 67’s are going to win this game. I will take Ottawa by a score of 7-2.
Vs. Barrie: This game has a special start time of 3:30 on Saturday afternoon at TD Place.
This year, the 67’s haven’t played great when the game is on Sportsnet, and that is because Ottawa wants to play at an extremely high pace, and when there is a T.V. timeout every five minutes, the other team can slow things down and keep up for longer. That being said, it hasn’t stopped the 67’s from winning those games. The Colts are a decent team, but they are in the bottom half of the league, sitting in the number 12 spot overall. That being said, the Colts are forcing the Sudbury Wolves to stare down the barrel of the gun. The Colts sit only two points behind the Wolves for the number one spot in the division. That is important because the Colts can jump from the number five seed, to the number two seed if they can edge out Sudbury. That would be huge for the Colts, who would go from playing the Generals or Petes, to playing the Bulldogs or Steelheads, or possibly the Wolves if they don’t figure things out.
Why is this relevant to this game, you ask me. Well, like last week when the Wolves needed to win, the Colts will also need a big win. The last time these teams met, Ottawa blew the Colts out winning 7-2, but this will be a little different. One thing that I am looking forward to in this game is a little sibling rivalry. Graeme Clarke is welcoming younger brother, Brandt Clarke to Ottawa. For the first time in the OHL, the brother will go head to head. Brandt has scored 33 points in 50 games, while Graeme has battled the injury bug as we all know, and has 12 points in 10 games. This game should be very competitive, and I think it’s going to overtime. Graeme Clarke is going to score the OT winner in this one to capture round one of the Clarke bowl. Ottawa wins 5-4.
@Oshawa: The 67’s are headed back to Oshawa, and you know the story. The only difference this time is the game is in the Generals barn. The 67’s haven’t had the same success on the road they have enjoyed at home this year despite only falling seven times in 28 road games. That being said, the 67’s and Generals have met routinely this season, and every time they meet, we are reminded who the alpha in the rivalry is. It is the 67’s, and it’s not close. The 67’s are the better team, but playing in Oshawa is going to work as the equalizer this time. I think this game will also get to overtime, but who wins is a toss-up. I think the 67’s will be able to edge out the Generals once again, and go on a 3-0 sweep of the weekend, getting them that much closer to the number one seed in the OHL.
There might only be 12 games left in the regular season, but there is still plenty of action to go. Buckle up, this is going to get bumpy. Let’s make TD Place even harder for the opposing teams, support the boys and get to a game. You can purchase tickets here.
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