67’s dropped by IceDogs

Shane Prince is so highly thought of around the Ontario Hockey League that opposing coaches this week voted him both the secondmost improved player and second-best playmaker in the entire Eastern Conference.

The Top 10 scorer is also a player the Ottawa 67’s can ill afford to be without, so his teammates will be hoping for a best-news prognosis today after Prince was felled by a crunching open-ice hit by Niagara IceDogs overage defenceman Tim Billingsly a little more than six minutes into Friday night’s 3-2 overtime loss.

Prince, who is enjoying a breakthrough season with 25 goals and 88 points, stayed on the ice for several minutes before skating off with the assistance of trainer Neil Hoch after Billingsley, an Ottawa native and Phoenix Coyote draft pick, caught him cutting across to the middle on a 67’s power play just inside the Niagara blue-line.

The preliminary diagnosis was that Prince might not have been a seriously injured as first thought, though he needed stitches to the back of his head, possibly when his helmet flew off and his head struck the ice, and had lacerations to one eye lid.

The Prince injury overshadowed a gutty performance by the 67’s in front of a Rona Centre crowd of 6,120, as they played the final 50 minutes with just nine forwards.

That was the case after Cody Lindsay took a puck in the face and suffered a suspected broken jaw just 10: 29 into the game.

The 67’s fought to the end, but were beaten with just 5.5 seconds remaining in overtime on a blast by top NHL draft prospect Ryan Strome with Niagara on the power play.

Ottawa captain Thomas Nesbitt appeared to have the winner 12: 42 into the third until Strome tied it on the power play at 16: 32.

Billingsley, an honest player, wasn’t penalized on the hit, though 67’s defenceman Jake Cardwell tried to exact a little revenge

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