By: Chris Hofley – Ottawa Sun
Photo: Aaron Bell – OHL Images
A third-period giveaway led to the winning goal for the Kingston Frontenacs Friday night as the Ottawa 67’s dropped their season opener 3-1.
Opening the season on the road as final touches are put on the arena at TD Place, 67’s star Travis Konecny was picked off in his own zone by the Frontenacs’ Juho Lammikko, who then fed Robert Polesello for the winning goal.
Lawson Crouse scored into an empty net in the final minute to seal the victory for the now 2-0 Frontenacs, who were playing their second game in as many nights.
While there wasn’t much to rave about in what wasn’t a pretty game for either team, Ottawa kept in close through the first 40 minutes after giving up the opening goal in the first period. Kingston opened the scoring with Ottawa’s Dante Salituro in the penalty box as Kingston’s Ryan Kujawinski blasted a one-time five-hole on 67’s goalie Leo Lazarev.
Ottawa scored its first goal of the year in the second after a Jeremiah Addison pass put Ben Fanjoy alone in front of the Kingston goal. Fanjoy fought off the Frontenancs defenceman and put a back hand in off the post to tie the game at one. It was Fanjoy’s first goal in the OHL.
Lazarev, who made 35 saves in first-ever OHL start, was a bright spot for Ottawa Friday night. After standing on his head and stopping 41 shots against Kingston in the pre-season. His work during training camp earned him the nod over veteran Liam Herbst, though 67’s coach Jeff Brown acknowledged after practice Thursday he hadn’t yet picked his starter.
He said at the time it was “50/50” who would start in Kingston.
“Both goalies have been really good,” Brown said. “Certainly Liam’s got a little more experience but (Lazarev has) come in and played unbelievable for us and works his tail off.”
The fact that Kingston sent 37 shots at Lazarev won’t make Brown happy, as the new Ottawa coach has already said his goalies took way too many shots in the pre-season.
After breaking his femur at the end of last season, forward Erik Bradford was in the opening night lineup and took a regular shift. Brown had said prior to Friday night’s game he wasn’t sure how often Bradford would be used right away, saying he wasn’t quite 100%.
Already without injured defenceman Mike Vlajkov, the 67’s had a scare late in the first period as Alex Lintuniemi missed a big hit on Frontenacs’ Spencer Watson and instead hit teammate Jake Middleton. Middleton was dazed on his feet and stayed down for a moment before skating off under his own power. The Los Angeles Kings prospect didn’t return to the game.
Ottawa is back in action next weekend with three road games: Friday in Oshawa, Saturday in Barrie and Sunday in Owen Sound.
They begin the 2014-15 home schedule and return to Lansdowne on Friday, October 10 against the Niagara IceDogs, with a 7:30 p.m. face-off at TD Place, formerly known as the Civic Centre.