67’s outmanned, but not outplayed

On paper, the Ottawa 67’s looked about as ready to go to war with the Ontario Hockey League’s best as a guy who shows up to a gunfight without bullets.

The 67’s took to the ice against the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors on Sunday minus seven players due to injury who, combined, have accounted for 96 goals in 2010-11, with the walking-wounded stretched out everywhere from the luxury boxes at the Rona Centre to Spencerport, New York.

Public address announcer Dan Mooney seemed to go on forever listing the 67’s scratches, a list that now includes captain Thomas Nesbitt, a 32-goal scorer, onethird of the top line in Shane Prince and his 88 points, and Cody Lindsay and his 27 goals, all injured Friday night in an overtime loss to the Niagara IceDogs.

On top of that, No. 1 goalie Petr Mrazek missed his fifth consecutive start due to a nagging groin pull.

So it was no small feat the 67’s were able to take the Majors, the third-ranked team in all of the Canadian Hockey League, to overtime before 67’s defenceman Jake Cardwell, the last man back, lost control of the puck inside the blue-line to send 40-goal scorer Justin Shugg in on Shayne Campbell and send a crowd of 6,917 home feeling empty after a 3-2 defeat.

“It’s tough to walk into the room and see all the jerseys and see half of them are not even hanging up,” said the 67’s best on the day, rookie Sean Monahan, who had a goal and an assist, leaving him with 19 goals on the season -11 in his last 13 games. “It’s a tough break for us just before the playoffs.

“But we’ve got to stay up and be there for our teammates. You have to play with all your heart and there’s not much left in the tank after you play 60 minutes like that.”

The actor Tom Hanks uttered, “There’s no crying in baseball” in the movie A League of Their Own. You can’t say that about hockey because there were tears afterward for an inconsolable Cardwell.

The 18-year-old, who helped shore up the 67’s blue-line when he arrived in a trade from Sudbury in December, wasn’t having any of the best efforts of his teammates to cheer him up, staying dressed in his gear long after most of his teammates had showered and left.

Injured defenceman Julian Luciani tried suggesting that it must have happened before, maybe in minor hockey?

“Never,” said Cardwell, wondering aloud how the puck got away from him.

But one mistake shouldn’t overshadow the day’s work for the 67’s, who somehow led 2-0 after 40 minutes against the team that will host the Memorial Cup in May and leads the overall OHL standings by a remarkable 11 points.

“It’s not a negative day,” said 67’s coach Chris Byrne. “Everyone always says how much heart there is in that room and it showed today.”

The teams skated through a scoreless opening period before the 67’s…Read more:

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