By: Barre Campbell – Ottawa67s.com Staff
Photo: Valerie Wuttie – Blitzen Photography
In one of the most entertaining hockey games at Lansdowne Park in years, the Ottawa 67’s tried to steal the show but fell agonizingly short against the juggernaut Oshawa Generals, junior hockey’s top-ranked team.
It was one of those heart-stopper kinds of contests that fans who made the trip to TD Place will gloat to their buddies at work that they should’ve been there.
The teams exchanged goals in the final five minutes of the game like they were playing fast-break basketball. And when the rubber finally stopped bouncing and the dust finally settled, a 2-0 lead for the 67’s heading into the final period evaporated into a 5-4 overtime loss.
For Ottawa, everything seemed well in hand as the game moved into the final 10 minutes. The Generals were pressuring to start the third and the 67’s had weathered a series of penalties that threatened the lead.
But the Generals, as great hockey teams do, managed to find a way to get back into this one; first on a Cole Cassels shorthanded marker, then on a Hunter Smith shot from the boards from a sharp angle.
Then the craziness began; a sequence of five goals (three by Oshawa and two by Ottawa) in a span of four minutes and 28 seconds.
Dante Salituro, one of best players wearing a 67’s uniform on Tuesday with one goal and three assists and with a load of scouts in the stands, got his stick on a Nevin Guy blast from the point just 30 seconds after Hunter’s goal to regain the lead for Ottawa.
Bradley Latour tied it for Oshawa moments later, only to see Brendan Bell tap in a loose puck into the Generals net with 2:40 remaining to put Ottawa back on top.
The fans urged the 67’s toward the win, but gasped when Smith scored his second goal in four minutes, with only 85 seconds remaining in regulation, to knot the score at fours.
Oshawa pressed and had great chances at the start of overtime but couldn’t beat Liam Herbst. At the other end, Jeremiah Addison had an opportunity at the edge of the crease but couldn’t move the puck behind Oshawa goalie Ken Appleby.
Then, at 3:32 of the extra period and on Oshawa’s fourth shot of overtime, Michael McCarron snuck behind the Ottawa defence and wristed one past Herbst to give the Generals a sixth consecutive win, and deliver Ottawa a first loss in the last five starts.
Ottawa coach Jeff Brown called the result a boost for the team’s morale and declared that his squad wouldn’t have even been close a few months ago against a team like Oshawa.
It was one of those how-do-you-like-us now moments that makes you wonder how far the 67’s can go this spring as they move toward qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in two years.
The 67’s have two days of practice between the next game at home on Friday against the Sarnia Sting (face-off at 7:30 p.m. at TD Place).
It’s on the bus and down Highway 7 to Peterborough for a Saturday night tilt against the Petes before returning to Ottawa on Sunday to face Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters, another junior hockey elite squad, for a 3 p.m. start at TD Place, a game that is sold out.