With more than half of the roster absent (at NHL camps) for Sunday afternoon’s tilt with the rival Kingston Frontenacs, it was a young trio that carried the way for the Ottawa 67’s. The line of Sean Monahan, Ryan Van Stralen and Brett Gustavsen were stellar as they combined for 12 points on the afternoon.
After special teams and lack of discipline let the Ottawa club down in Wednesday’s loss to the Bulls, it looked early on like the same fate might befall the Barber Poles. Less than 2 minutes in , Ben Dubois was sent off for interference on an offensive zone face-off. The Frontenacs buzzed the net and had 3 quality chances but failed to beat rookie netminder Karsten Pankhurst. The 67’s managed to kill the penalty off and even sent Dubois in on an unsuccessful chance out of the box. In the confusion to get lines back together following the penalty kill, the 67’s were again whistled for an infraction, this time for having too many men on the ice. Given the numerous new faces in the lineup, this was perhaps an understandable penalty, but furstrating nonetheless. The 67’s successfully killed off their 2nd penalty in the first five minutes and then started to take the play to the Fronts. They were rewarded as Monahan had a nice solo rush to gain the line and get a shot on goal. It was saved, but rookie Van Stralen was there to bury the rebound in the yawning cage.
OTTAWA GOAL: Ryan Van Stralen (Sean Monahan, Brett Gustavsen) at 8:18 of the first period
It was Van Stralen’s first OHL goal, but get used to hearing summary that for the rest of this recap. However, the lead didn’t last long, as moments later Darcy Greenaway made a nice feed from behind the net to a wide open Cody Alcock who made no mistake on the one timer.
KINGSTON GOAL: Cody Alcock (Darcy Greenaway, Alex Gudbransen) at 8:47 of the first period
Less than 15 seconds later, Ottawa went on the penalty kill for the third time in the period, with Cody Ceci getting sent off for checking from behind. They killed this one successfully again. Up to this point, Ottawa had outplayed Kingston 5-0n-5, but they need to stay out of the box.
Late in the period, Ottawa took the lead again on a goal that was all Van Stralen. He took a pass on the left wing, took one shot that was saved, the rebound came back to him and he carried it behind the net and banked it in off the goalie for his second of the game.
OTTAWA GOAL: Ryan Van Stralen (Sean Monahan, Brett Gustavsen) at 19:57 of the first period
The 67’s outshot the Frontenacs 13-5 in the first period and leave the ice with a 2-1 lead.
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The 67’s came out with some swagger in the 2nd period, and they started to take it to Kingston. Newcomer Ryan MacLean beat Kingston goalie Blake Richards high glove on a wrister from the slot, for his first OHL goal.
OTTAWA GOAL: Ryan MacLean (Sean Callaghan) at 2:12 of the 2nd period
The Frontenacs show some abilty to respond again, as after killing off a penalty to Gudbranson, Greenaway sped down the right wing and blew one past Pankhurst to cut the 67’s lead back to one.
KINGSTON GOAL: Darcy Greenaway (Andrew Tessier) at 8:42 of the 2nd period
Sean Callaghan, rookie defenseman for Ottawa, asserted himself and rocked Spencer Green, with a stiff shoulder to his upper body. Green got off under his own power, but he definitely struggled to get to the bench. Minutes later, a mad scramble and big save at one end of the ice created the proverbial goal at the other end. Within 20 seconds, the Frontenacs had 3 or 4 great chances to tie the game, but it was Van Stralen to the rescue as Ottawa’s top line in this game struck again as the rookie got his hat trick goal by beating Richards high glove again.
OTTAWA GOAL: Ryan Van Stralen (Sean Monahan, Brett Gustavsen) at 12:19 of the 2nd period
This unit was on fire, and didn’t waste much time in adding another, as Monahan found Gustavsen in the slot for another shot that found the top right corner to give the home side a 5-2 lead.
OTTAWA GOAL: Brett Gustavsen (Sean Monahan, Ryan Van Stralen) at ? of the 2nd period
The high glove side continued to be where Ottawa targeted Richards, as Remy Giftopoulos found that spot for the 67’s 6th goal.
OTTAWA GOAL: Remy Gifopoulos (Ben Dubous, Kyle Leduc) at 17:45 of the 2nd period
The shots after 2 periods were Ottawa 24, Kingston 18. It just goes to show how effective the Ottawa club can be when they play hockey and avoid the sin bin. Ottawa led 6-2 after 2.
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The third period saw Kingston make an effort to get back into the game, with a power play goal about one quarter of the way through the frame. Cody Alcok netted his second of the game, this time with Nick Foglia off for hooking.
KINGSTON GOAL: Cody Alcock (Darcy Greenaway, Petr Beranek) at 5:03 of the 3rd period.
The third period belonged to Karsten Pankurst in the 67’s goal. He made a number of saves on goal-mouth scrambles as Kingston valiantly fought to get closer. The trio (that I have dubbed M-V-G) of Monahan, Van Stralen and Gustavsen was broken up for much of the period as Gustavsen moved to centre another line for a time. However, with solid penalty killing and Pankhurst, the Frontenacs got no closer, falling 6-3 to the Ottawa 67’s, with Ottawa leading 32-26 on the shot clock.
The three stars as selected “in house”, and they were pretty obvious, were:
3rd Star: Brett Gustavsen (1G, 3A)
2nd Star: Sean Monahan (4A)
1st Star: Ryan Van Stralen (3G, 1A)
FROM MY VANTAGE POINT
I don’t know if this trio will be kept together when the troops return from NHL camps in a couple of weeks, but M-V-G showed some great chemistry. Gustavsen is a smaller player but he seems to find the openings and is gritty for a player of his stature. Monahan is a potential top line centre right now on a lot of OHL teams, but will be playing behind Ryan Martindale. Van Stralen is a big guy with good hands and can play physical. He played 2 seasons with the Smith’s Falls Bears in the Central League, but at 18 will be turning some heads this season as a potential late-bloomer.
This game can’t be considered a measuring stick for the season with 1/2 of the roster away, but the regulars showed very well. Cody Ceci for one, is playing with an authority on the ice that he didn’t really show as often last year, which is a good thing for both the 67’s and his own draft status in June.
MY UNSUNG HERO
For the increased ice time available to the players, nobody did more to turn my head than Ben Dubois. He showed grit, drive to the net and an ability to get his nose dirty. He took an early penalty, but after that he was a positive factor in this game.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The 67’s pay the Frontenacs a return visit on Wednesday night, and then they return home to close out the pre-season against the Belleville Bulls on Friday night, 7:30 pm at the Civic Centre.
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!