By Aedan Helmer, Ottawa Sun
Photo Cred: Valerie Wutti, Blitzen Photography
If 67’s fans are wondering where the goals are going to come from on this year’s squad, the players are starting to provide some answers.
Steven Janes, with a pair of power play goals, Tyler Graovac and Cody Ceci scored for the 67’s as they took the rematch against the Gatineau Olympiques 4-2 Saturday in front of 1,172 fans at Rockland’s Academy.
The Olympiques got goals from Mickael Beauregard and Chris King.
On Friday in Smiths Falls, it was Brett Gustavsen leading the 67’s charge with a three-point night, with contributions from Remy Giftopoulos and Ryan Van Stralen in a 5-4 Ottawa win over their cross-river rivals.
Top-line scoring roles are there for the taking after the departures of two bona fide OHL scoring stars in Tyler Toffoli (Kings) and Shane Prince (Senators), but this year’s team is more likely to get their scoring by committee.
“I have to step up because Toff and Prince are gone and they were our leading scorers last year. I still have a big body presence out there, but I’ve got to do what I can to put points up,” said Janes, who also had a strong physical game with a number of crushing hits.
“It’s my game to get physical out there and make some room for some of the young guys and smaller guys so they can handle the puck, and I got some good opportunities out there and put them in,” said Janes.
Aside from his speed and scoring touch, Gustavsen has been a thorn in the opposition’s side as an agitator through the pre-season. The target he was wearing on his back Friday only seemed to get bigger in Saturday’s rematch, and Gatineau was drawn into a few bad retaliatory penalties.
Gustavsen took a gloved punch to the face from Mickael Beauregard for his troubles, and Van Stralen was ejected after coming to his teammate’s defence with a thorough pounding of the Gatineau defenceman.
Making his pre-season debut after sitting out camp with strep throat, Ceci did a good job of stepping into the leadership gap, and is a strong candidate for the captaincy.
“There’s some big shoes to fill, (outgoing captain Marc Zanetti) and our assistants did a great job last year, so there will be some roles to fill. I’m a fourth-year guy now, I think I’ve been here the longest of anyone, and the guys respect me,” said Ceci, who likes what he’s seen in exhibition so far.
“It’s different when you play a team from another league. We showed we’re a pretty gritty team and at the same time we’ve got some skill. It was good competition.”
Ottawa coach Chris Byrne was also pleased with the overall effort, and gave special mention to his goaltending tandem of Michael Nishi and Jacob Blair, who combined to stop 24 of Gatineau’s 26 shots.
“It was a great weekend for our young guys, they had an opportunity to play lots of minutes and they did a good job with those minutes, the goalies played well for us this weekend. Our goaltending was probably the best part of our game tonight.”
The 67’s have scored just about every which way but even in the pre-season. On Friday, the team went 2-for-9 on the power play and scored once short-handed. On Saturday, the team scored twice on the power play, once short-handed, and added a 4-on-4 goal … Veterans C Sean Monahan and D Michal Cajkovsky were scratched for the second straight game, while overage goaltender Keegan Wilson was given the night off after starting Friday … RW Taylor Fielding suffered an arm injury Friday and will likely miss a week.