Ottawa 67’s winger Steven Janes set some impressive preseason goals for his second season. Janes wants to be the Ontario Hockey League’s 20-20-20 man.
“I set my sights on 20 goals, 20 assists … and 20 fights,” said the hard-nosed Janes.
Now while the season is only two games old, the assists part of the equation might be toughest to reach as Janes seems immune to any sophomore jinx.
In fact, offensively, the hard-nosed Etobicoke product has done in two games what it took him 51 games to do as a rookie, scoring three times on the exhaustive swing through Northern Ontario, including a pair to give the 67’s a split on the trip with a win over the Sudbury Wolves before 3,112 at the Sudbury Arena on a Sudbury Saturday Night.
Janes, who doesn’t turn 18 until February, accounted for three of nine 67’s goals on the trip as they return home to prepare for the home opener Friday against Oshawa.
The 67’s have work to do off a trip that encompassed 62 hours door-to-door. But that can wait until practice on Tuesday.
“The goals are coming a little quicker than I thought,” dead-panned Janes, the game’s first star, who took a little ribbing for having to do television afterwards.
“But it’s just bearing down and paying more attention to the puck. Last year I was really nervous about making mistakes.
“Now I realize everybody makes mistakes. But you just have to always work hard. Coaches only get on you when you don’t work hard.” The 67’s hoped for better than a 1-1 trip and the frustration has little or nothing to do with the never-ending construction on Highway 17, the non-stop rain and wind, or the late-night check-ins followed by early morning wake-up calls.
Most consider the Wolves a longshot to make the playoffs while the 67’s are expected to contend for the Eastern Conference pennant. It sure didn’t look that way early on, certainly after 40 minutes with the game tied 2-2. Worse, the Wolves were without two of their key performers: Marcus Foligno, who is away at Buffalo Sabres camp, and Ottawa’s Eric O’Dell, injured.
The 67’s, seeking revenge from a frustrating night in Sault Ste. Marie the previous night, were outshot 17-7 in the opening 20 minutes and luckily only outscored 1-0 with Josh McFadden beating Chris Perugini 3:48 in.
The 67’s falling behind meant that, since taking a 2-0- first period lead in the Sault, they had been outscored four straight periods by a combined 7-3 — and that’s with solid goaltending.
That stat prompted head coach Chris Byrne to read his version of the riot act between the first and second period.
“It was a tough first period,” said Byrne. “We had guys a little sleepy.
“So things were said and ice time was removed for some.” Sudbury went up by two midway through the second on a three-way passing play that included Palmer Rapids product Sam Schutt, with Kristoff Kontos finishing it off.
But the 67’s came right back 24 seconds later with Tyler Toffoli taking a rink-wide pass from Shane Prince and scoring his second in as many games since returning from the Los Angeles Kings’ camp.
Janes matched Toffoli by scoring his second at 14:32.
Ottawa came on even stronger in the third with Janes scoring the winner on the power-play at 11:16 and Cody Lindsay counting an empty-netter at 19:22.
Byrne singled out the work of rookie defenceman Ryan Shipley, second-year forwards Tyler Graovac and Nick Foglia and defenceman-turned-forward Ryan Hanes, who was stellar killing penalties.
On the Sudbury side, Schutt, a member of Jeff Fitch’s Eastern Ontario minor midget AAA-champion Ottawa Valley Titans of a year ago, needed just slightly more than two periods to score in the Wolves’ season-opening loss to the Niagara IceDogs on Friday.
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