By Aedan Helmer, Ottawa Sun
Like any good captain, Sean Monahan wasn’t about to get too down over Thursday night’s season-opening loss to the Barrie Colts.
After all, 67’s co-captains Monahan and Cody Ceci, along with alternates Jake Cardwell and Tyler Graovac, each had about 24 hours with letters on their jerseys before the OHL season kicked off.
It didn’t help matters much that the opposition just happened to be a team picked by many to win the Eastern Conference this season — a team that had motivation for revenge after blowing a 3-1 series lead against the 67’s in last season’s playoffs.
Meanwhile, the bright lights of Scotiabank Place, with a boisterous, hockey-starved crowd of around 11,000 on hand, provided the backdrop for the OHL debuts of six 67’s: Jonathan Duchesne, Andrew Abou-Assaly, Dante Salituro, Nevin Guy, Matthieu Desautels and Connor Brown.
“We worked hard and we just made mistakes that we can fix easily,” said Monahan, who matched up against Winnipeg Jets prospect Mark Scheifele all night and still came away with two goals and an assist.
“It’s just a good learning experience for some of the new guys and the guys that are stepping into bigger roles this year. We played a pretty good game, there’s a few things we need to work on, and we’ll be better for Saturday’s game.”
That could be bad news for Ottawa’s opponent, the Peterborough Petes, a team the 67’s have feasted on, compiling a 12-2-2 record against their East Division rivals over the past two seasons.
A team desperately seeking an identity under GM Dave Reid and coach Mike Pelino, the Petes and their fans are also desperate to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
The Petes have won exactly one playoff game, way back in 2008, since capturing the OHL title in 2006.
The Petes must be thanking their lucky stars they’ve seen the last of former 67’s star Shane Prince, who led all players in last year’s season series with 22 points in seven games.
Unfortunately for the Petes, the guys ranked Nos. 2 and 3 on that list are still around: Monahan racked up five goals and 12 points and Ceci had three goals and 11 points.
The Petes haven’t exactly gotten off to the start they wanted with a season-opening loss to the Oshawa Generals after going winless in five pre-season games.
If the Petes are going to step up, it’ll be a few local lads leading the charge.
Mountain’s Slater Koekkoek — fresh off a summer where his name was called by another local hero in Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman as the 10th overall pick at the NHL draft — is team captain this season Alan Quine of Ottawa and Clark Seymour of Maitland are alternates.
Third overall pick Eric Cornel, from Kemptville, will be looked upon to light the lamp. He’s joined on the roster by youngsters Francis Menard (Embrun) and Alex Robinson (Ottawa).
“I want to make one thing completely clear,” Pelino told QMI Agency. “We’re on a mission this year. We’re on a mission to win. As a staff, we’re all on the same page. We’re going to be a team that has character. Our determination and our desire will define us. We’re going to make every single day count. Every single day. We’re going to be a passionate, enthusiastic group which is going to be successful.”