Welcome to the first weekly wrap-up of the Ottawa 67′s. The barber poles took to the ice for a Labour Day afternoon tilt with the Quebec Remparts.
The 67′s and Remparts iced most of what will be their regular season lineups, with the big exception of 67′s top line centre Ryan Martindale, who has already departed for the Edmonton Oilers‘ rookie camp/tournament. While the Remparts were playing their final tuneup before the regular season starts, the 67′s were taking to the ice for the first time in a competitive environment. The 67′s rust showed early on, as they were just a little bit out of synch over the first half of the game. Case in point was a breakaway by Senators prospect Shane Prince in the dying seconds of the first period, but he was unable to beat the Remparts netminder. While the 67′s players were battling rust, goaltender Petr Mrazek was in mid-season form, making a handful of excellent saves to keep the 67s in the game early on. However, the 67s ran into penalty trouble and Quebec finally capitalized. Top 2012 draft prospect Mikhail Grigorenko fired a wrister past Mrazek on a 5-on-3 to give the Remparts the lead heading into the third. The 67′s came out flying in the third period, and with Shayne Campbell spelling Mrazek, fired 3 unanswered goals to move into a 3-1 lead. Dalton Smith and Taylor Fielding put the 67′s ahead, and that is when the scrapping started. What had been a chippy game turned ugly with an all out line brawl that saw 5 players get ejected. It was the first of many scraps between the clubs who haven’t played each other in recent memory, if ever. After Sean Monahan put the home side up 3-1 (off a great feed from Prince), Grigorenko scored his second of the game to bring the Remparts within one. They could get no closer as they thought they had scored the even-up marker but it was ruled no goal.
The final score: Ottawa 3, Quebec 2.
THE THREE STARS (as selected in-house)
3. Petr Mrazek (OTT)
2. Mikhail Grigorenko (QUE)
1. Sean Monahan (OTT)
WHAT I SAW
- The 67′s are huge. They were physically dominant up front and on D. Their size surprised me a little seeing them in comparison with the Remparts. Even though they started out slow, they wore Quebec down with a constant physical barrage
- I don’t want to paint an entire league with one brush, and I haven’t seen a ton of QMJHL games, but Quebec gave the game I expected from them. They were liberal with the stick on almost every available opportunity and it was frustrating to watch. Leading the way in my “I wish I could punch him in the face” list were Frederick Roy (son of coach and Hall of Famer Patrick) and Michael Tam, the player who was the victim of the infamous Patrice Cormier head-hunting incident a couple of years back.
- If Mrazek isn’t the best goalie in the OHL this season, I will be shocked. His compete level is off the charts and he made a couple of toe saves sliding across the crease that he had no business making if it was the playoffs, let alone the first exhibition game of the season. He was the in-house third star and only played 2 periods.
- Monahan was the beneficiary of the early departure of Martindale, as he netted a goal and two assists playing on the top line with Prince and Toffoli
- Joining Martindale at various NHL camps very shortly will be Toffoli (LA Kings), Prince (Ottawa), Mrazek (Detroit), Tyler Graovac (Minnesota) and Dalton Smith (Columbus). This will likely leave the club slightly shorthanded once the season begins on Sept. 23 at home to the Belleville Bulls
- Campbell also played well in relief of Mrazek, showing a quick glove hand. He would like to have back the shot that beat him, though, as it seemed to go right through him
- New faces in the 67s lineup made an impact, as rookie forward Ryan Van Stalen played a very physical role, and showed he won’t be pushed around and will defend his teammates. First round pick David Perklin looked like he was fighting it a bit, as he looked to pass on a couple of chances when a shot might have been better advised. Otherwise, he skated well and played mostly on the 4th line. Towering defenseman (acquired from Kingston in the off season) Michal Cajkovsky showed patience with the puck and a willingness to throw the body around. All three will be solid additions this season.
THE COMING WEEK
The 67′s continue their exhibition schedule with a game in Belleville Wednesday night against the Bulls, then return home to face the Kingston Frontenacs next Sunday, Sept. 11th.
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