Over 3,000 km and nearly 32 hours in the team bus; that’s what awaits the Ottawa 67’s over the next two weekends. The Barber Poles kick off the second half of their season on Thursday with the first of a draining six-game road trip, starting with a three games in three nights scenario this weekend.
Coming into the weekend, the 67’s sit in sixth spot of the Eastern Conference, four points behind the fourth-placed Hamilton Bulldogs. Over the last ten games, they have the fourth-best record in the East with 5-4-1.
“Six games on the road, it’s important that we get some points,” said GM and Head Coach Jeff Brown. “We have a great schedule after those six games, but in the meantime, we have to make sure to take care of business over the next two weekends.”
The 67’s will start things off by facing the Niagara IceDogs Thursday evening at the Meridian Centre and they will be looking to avenge the 5-3 loss that the IceDogs handed them mid-November. Friday, the Barber Poles will face the Erie Otters for a first time this season, before wrapping up the weekend in Hamilton against the Bulldogs.
Offensively, Sasha Chmelevski – who was recently ranked 19th on the International Scouting Service’s list of top 2017 draft prospects – will be looking to keep things going as the 17-year-old has picked up eight points in his last ten games.
Chmelevski stresses the importance of the first game of this grueling road trip.
“Usually the first game dictates how the rest of the road trip is going to go,” said Chmelevski. “Last time we were in Niagara we had a great game but we struggled a little bit in the third so hopefully this time we can have a good 60-minute effort and set the tone for the rest of the weekend.”
On the road this year, the 67’s carry an impressive record of 11-7-0; only Sault Ste. Marie (19) and Windsor (12) have more road wins this season. According to defenceman Noel Hoefenmayer, the recipe for success is fairly simple.
“The guys seem to have that extra drive when we are on the road,” said Hoefenmayer. “It’s always nice to go in someone else’s barn and upsetting them so I believe that that mentality is driving us and giving us more success.”
Ottawa’s two newest additions Zack Dorval and Chris Martenet are expected to make their 67’s debut Thursday evening in Niagara.
Following this weekend, the 67’s will come back to Ottawa before heading back on the road next weekend for another three games on the road.