The Ottawa 67’s return home this weekend for back-to-back games against the Kingston Frontenacs and North Bay Battalion and they’ll have a familiar face leading them into battle.
After taking some time away from his coaching duties for health reasons, Head Coach and General Manager Jeff Brown will return behind the bench at The Arena at TD Place, alongside Associate Coach Mike Eastwood and Assistant Coach Brad Brown.
He said he’s looking forward to stepping back into the role, though he continued his duties as GM during his time away from coaching.
“I feel great,” Brown said. “It’s a new year and a big weekend for us with two divisional games so it’s pretty exciting to get back behind the bench … Eastwood and (Brad) Brown have done a great job in the last couple months.”
After starting the new year with a loss to the East-leading Oshawa Generals, the 67’s will look to be more consistent, building on impressive performances like Ottawa’s 3-2 win over Oshawa on Dec. 29.
Up first for the Barber Poles is a date with the rival Frontenacs on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. These are the kind of points the 67’s know they have to pick up, particularly at home against a team that sits just a single point ahead of Ottawa for fifth spot in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. The 67’s hold the edge in the season series against the Frontenacs with a 2-1-1 record in four games, with four more to come in the back half of the season.
While the 67’s are in the top third of the conference when it comes to goals with 127 goals for in 38 games, the Frontenacs have the fewest in the East, sitting on just 90 goals. But the 67’s are focused on what the other team has been up to.
“For us, the focus is on us,” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of home games in the second half of the season and we’ve got to start it off well in our barn.”
The 67’s close out their weekend Sunday at 2 p.m. against the Battalion, a team currently sitting four points behind Ottawa in the conference and a team the 67’s would like to keep in the rearview mirror. The 67’s have a 1-2-0 record against the Battalion this year and will look to shut down a capable offence that includes forward Brett McKenzie, who sits 17th in the OHL in scoring with 18 goals and 39 points in 35 games.
“They’re a well-coached team and they’re going to work home,” said Brown, once again underscoring the importance of winning at TD Place. “We have to be better at home. It shouldn’t matter who is coming in, we’ve got to take care of things in our own game.
After this weekend’s homestand, the 67’s hit the road for a long stretch of away games as the club stops in Niagara, Erie, Hamilton, Windsor, London and Kitchener before finally returning home to host Mississauga on January 24.