67’s, Olympiques set to renew historic rivalry in outdoor classic
It’s been a while since the Ottawa 67’s and Gatineau Olympiques played each other in a game that mattered in the standings.
And they’ve never played each other outside, on the mother of all outdoor rinks.
Both of those things will happen Sunday as the Ottawa River rivalry is renewed for a historic outdoor game at TD Place.
Pre-season games have been a semi-regular occurrence for the 67’s and the then-Hull Olympiques over the years, particularly from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s. They’ve also played a number of home-and-home series during regular seasons past during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
As one might expect, those games were known for their intensity, two teams from the same region who didn’t get to play each other much but had no love lost for one another. Looking back at old game sheets of games between the two teams and more often than not the penalty recap dwarfs the scoring summary.
Fighting, slashing, roughing, more slashing and the odd gross misconduct were commonplace. Historic venues like the Robert Guertin Arena and a pre-Lansdowne renovation Civic Centre served as backdrops to the classic tilts between the OHL and QMJHL.
“Those games were intense,” understated legendary former 67’s coach and GM Brian Kilrea.
While both teams will likely be stressing that this is another game for the teams with important points up for grabs, Kilrea says that wasn’t actually the case during Ottawa-Gatineau battles of years past.
“We didn’t just play it as another game – it was an ‘our league against theirs’ type of mentality,” Kilrea said. “Everyone wants to brag about their league being the best and we were no different.”
Kilrea expects the fans to quickly jump back into the rivalry, though he points out that, as far as the players go, you really have to be from the area to fully grasp the significance of the game.
“Everyone here wants to beat the guys from across the river, but if you’re from, say, Toronto, you won’t feel that same kind of pressure.”
One thing is for sure, with the great unknown factor for Sunday being winter weather in Ottawa, Kilrea isn’t longing to be back behind the bench for this one.
“That’s just fine by me,” he added with a chuckle.
Notable 67’s vs Olympiques matchups
January 23/February 26, 2000
The season following Ottawa’s Memorial Cup win featured the first home-and-home regular season series between the 67’s and Olympiques and it did not disappoint. Ottawa won both games – the first a 6-3 decision at home before downing Hull 4-0 in their barn – with players like Matt Zultek, who scored the Memorial Cup-winning overtime goal months before – finding the score sheet. Predictably, both games were penalty filled affairs, with Mark Bell fighting in both games and the teams combining for more than 50 penalties over the two nights. ‘
December 8, 2002 – Hull at Ottawa
Corey Locke is named the game’s first star as the 67’s forward scores twice to lead his team to a 6-4 win. Jeremy Akeson, Matt Foy and Peter Tsimikalis had the other Ottawa goals. The game featured many penalties, with Ottawa getting 10 minors and Gatineau getting nine, plus a gross misconduct. Lukas Mensator picked up the win in goal for Ottawa.
February 17, 2002
Another battle that the 67’s came out on the winning end of, the Barber Poles downed Hull 5-2 in a game that featured more penalties, more fights and even a Hull player getting tossed for butt-ending a 67’s player. In all, 35 penalties were recorded including a near line brawl midway through the third period that featured two fights, several misconducts and an expulsion for Hull’s Scott Gibson for leaving the bench during the fracas. The 67’s got goals from players like Carter Trevisani, Adam Chapman and Miguel Delisle.