After picking up a character 5-4 overtime win last Sunday in Kingston, the Ottawa 67’s are back in action this weekend on home ice with a pair of games against the North Bay Battalion, Saturday afternoon, and against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Sunday afternoon.
67’s Head Coach Jeff Brown believes that the win in Kingston speaks volumes about his young team.
“It was a character win, no question,” said Brown. “We faced some adversity but our guys bounced back and got an important win for us on the road. Hopefully it will give us confidence going forward.”
The Barber Poles will look to carry that momentum going into this weekend against two difficult opponents in North Bay and Sault Ste. Marie. Coach Brown feels like his team has improved defensively over the last few games but wants now more consistency at home.
“It’s a work in progress, we’re certainly not perfect but it’s getting better,” said Brown. “We have a bunch of young guys and they are buying in so that’s good. Now we have to do better at home.”
“I don’t feel we’ve been as good at home as we have been on the road,” added Brown. “We need to get a couple of wins this weekend. We’ve been losing those one-goal games at home as opposed to scoring and winning on the road. Now we need to find a way to do the same thing at home this weekend.”
67’s have the third best offense in the league with 31 goals scored after eight games and two key pieces of Ottawa’s offensive puzzle have been Artur Tyanulin and Austen Keating. Tyanulin is second in the OHL scoring race with 16 points while Keating is fifth with 13 points.
Keating is entering the weekend coming off a strong performance against Kingston where he scored two goals and was named the third star of the game. The 67’s 2015 first round draft pick is very pleased with his performance so far and wants to keep improving.
“It’s been a dream come true start to the season for me,” said Keating. “The line I’ve been playing with has been great so far, with Sasha and Artur who have both had huge contributions. We just want to keep improving as a line and as a team, hopefully starting this weekend.”
Keating expects his team to go for all four points this weekend.
“We’re feeling pretty good right now, obviously we are one game under .500 which is not great, but we will start Saturday and try to get a win to get back to .500 and then get another win Sunday and go above it,” added Keating.
Another player who has contributed to Ottawa’s offensive success is Noel Hoefenmayer, who leads all 67’s defencemen in points, having picked up eight points after eight games. The second-year defenceman will be looking to extend his seven-consecutive-point streak this weekend.
Beginning Saturday, the 67’s will face a confident North Bay Battalion team as Stan Butler’s men enter the game after winning back-to-back games against Sault Ste. Marie and Niagara. The Battalion has a record of three wins and three losses this year. Both teams split their four-game series last year, with each team grabbing a home and away win.
The 67’s will the wrap up their two-game home stand by hosting the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, who have lost their last two contests, most recently suffering a 6-1 loss against Owen Sound. The Greyhounds are still one game above .500 with four wins and three losses this year.
Last season the Greyhounds had the upper hand, sweeping the two-game series, with a 5-2 win in Sault Ste. Marie and a 8-5 win at the arena at TD Place.