By Jared Crozier, SenShot
The Belleville Bulls, having been owned by the Ottawa 67's over the past three seasons (Ottawa had a 21-1-2 record), were no doubt chomping at the bit to face this year's younger version of the 67's. The veteran Bulls peppered rookie goalie Jacob Blair, who was up to the task for 40 minutes before wilting a little in the third period, resulting in a 5-2 Bulls win. Early third period goals from Brendan Gaunce and Daniil Zharkov (the first of the season for each) were the difference as the Bulls outplayed Ottawa for most of the game en route to the win.
Blair, starting once again in place of Keegan Wilson (lower body injury), kept the 67's in the game in the first, making 15 saves. However, a point blast from Stephen Silas on the power play gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead after one. The 67's didn't muster much offense in return, putting only 5 shots on goalie Malcolm Subban.
Ottawa came out on a power play to start the 2nd, and they didn't waste much time evening the score, with veteran Steven Janes putting a quick shot from the slot past Subban before the ice was dry. Blair was the star of the period as he was in a shooting gallery once again, and the rookie held his ground. It took a power play goal to beat him as Garrett Hooey's tap-in with three and a half minutes left in the frame was the only shot to beat Blair. Despite being outshot 33-16 (which wasn't even indicative of the lopsided play that favored the Bulls), Blair was the reason the 67's were within one after 40 minutes.
Gaunce put the Bulls up a pair as his high shot from the slot got past Blair about two minutes into the third. Zharkov's spinning wraparound slipped through Blair's legs 80 seconds later forced Chris Byrne to call a timeout to rally his troops. A three goal deficit is pretty much insurmountable for the 67's this season, especially against a goalie like Subban. However, as has been the trend this season, the 67's didn't roll over. Monahan finished off a nice passing from Dante Salituro, but that was responded to shortly thereafter by Niki Petti's first OHL goal as the Bulls maintained the 3 goal cushion. Brett Gustavsen made it 5-3 with just under 5 minutes to play, but that was as close as they would get.
OBSERVATIONS & MUSINGS
Ottawa dressed 9 defensemen for this game, with 2 of them playing as forwards. Wingers Ryan Van Stralen and Taylor Fielding were out of the lineup, forcing the even more defense-heavy lineup than usual. As a result, the 67's went primarily with 3 lines.
There a a few things that must happen if Ottawa is going to win games this season. None of them happened in Belleville on Saturday night. Monahan was outpointed by his opposing counterpart (Brendan Gaunce in this instance), Ottawa allowed more than 30 shots (actually 46), and the 67's goalie couldn't steal the game (although Blair's effort through 40 minutes was admirable).
Ottawa returns home to face the Sudbury Wolves on Sunday afternoon, 2:00 pm at Scotiabank Place.