By Aedan Helmer, Ottawa Sun
The 67’s are getting offence from their ‘D,’ now if they could only get some defence.
It’s one thing to come out on the losing side of a hotly contested opening night battle with the OHL powerhouse Barrie Colts, it’s another thing altogether to bow out meekly to one of the league’s doormats in the perpetually rebuilding Peterborough Petes.
The Petes built up an early lead and then dialed up the work ethic as they sent the 67’s to their second straight defeat of the young season, this time a 4-3 decision in front of 5,094 fans, about half of the crowd that showed up to Scotiabank Place on opening night.
Starter Keegan Wilson was hung out to dry as the Petes fired three quick pucks by him with the game barely five minutes old, and before the 67’s had a sniff of the opposition goal and the Petes’ surprise starter Michael Giugovaz.
The rookie made his first OHL start in favour of veteran Andrew D’Agostini, who was yanked in Friday’s opening- night loss to Oshawa.
Wilson could hardly be blamed on any of the early goals, as a 67’s defence that should, at least on paper, rank among the best in the OHL, was uncharacteristically porous.
The Petes opened the scoring on the game’s first shot a minute in, courtesy of Zach Lorentz, the key piece coming back to the Petes in the offseason trade that sent captain and Senators first-rounder Matt Puempel to Kitchener.
After the game, the 67’s held a brief players-only meeting to refocus with last year’s playoff nemesis, the Niagara IceDogs, paying a visit Friday.
“We’ve got to start working harder and paying more attention to detail,” said Taylor Fielding. “We’ve got a bunch of guys who are capable, and we’ve got a few guys who are getting their first career games out of their system, so we just have to help each other out and hopefully we can turn it around next weekend.”
Jake Cardwell’s tough start continued, the overage defenceman was a team-worst minus-4 in Ottawa’s opening-night loss to Barrie, and after allowing Lorentz walk around him on the opening goal, he provided a perfect screen in front of Wilson as Clark Seymour’s point shot found it’s way through Wilson.
That was enough for coach Chris Byrne, who burned his timeout to settle the troops, but the tactic had little effect as Embrun’s Francis Menard beat Wilson just over a minute after play resumed.
But the 67’s newly formed “Kid Line” finally connected, with rookies Andrew Abou-Assaly and Dante Salituro setting up a one-timer from Fielding that got Ottawa on the board.
Both youngsters displayed some fine offensive skills on the goal, with Abou-Assaly working the puck out of the corner and Salituro flicking a cross-crease pass from his knees to find Fielding.
“The message for our guys is that we don’t have the same team as last year, but I think some of our guys believe that we have the same team,” Byrne said after the game.
“We don’t have the ability to score that many goals, so our team this year has to be a different style, we have to do it a different way, and there are some guys that are in the process of being convinced that has to happen.
“The (Kid Line) played hard, they played the right way, and Fielding played well on that line as well. We’re going to have to count on them to continue playing well.”
Cody Ceci and Ryan Van Stralen scored Ottawa’s other goals.