A Mitchell Balmas hat trick sealed the deal for the Gatineau Olympiques in the first ever outdoor junior hockey game in Ontario. They beat the Ottawa 67’s – and the cold – in front of 11,671 fans Sunday evening.
Despite the two teams doing battle in separate leagues, this interleague game had points up for grabs in each team’s respective standings. For the 67’s, the loss drops their overall record to 15-15-2-1.
The Olympiques got on the board first in the opening seconds of the second period. Shawn Boudrias advanced the puck in front of the Ottawa net, and dished a pass to Balmas for the game’s first goal.
Kody Clark would even things up at 13:39 – he formed the Clark(e) connection, taking the pass from Graeme Clarke and rifling home the game’s tying goal.
But the game wasn’t tied for long, as Gatineau had a quick answer and re-took the lead again. Balmas notched his second goal of the contest by swiping at a loose puck in the slot to get it passed a sprawling Olivier Tremblay.
Ottawa continued to apply the majority of the pressure in the second frame, but couldn’t get any opportunities to tickle the twine and the Olympiques kept their lead.
Gatineau had a goal disallowed, which kept the score close until the dying minutes of the game. Then, with five minutes to go, the Olympiques had a dagger come off the stick of Boudrias. A wrist shot from the right side that went off the far post and in for a 3-1 lead.
They would add a fourth goal – the third of the night for Balmas – to take the first leg of this rivalry set at TD Place.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Head coach André Tourigny
On playing outdoors… “The ice was really really fast, it was hard to place the puck where you wanted to. There was a quick pace from behind the bench so it was really cool to have a chance to be there.”
On traffic in front of the net… “It’s a daily topic for us. We’re not scoring enough goals and for me that’s the most important point. Goalies around the world now are good. They’re well trained, prepared, athletic – if they see every puck, you will score once, twice, or maybe three times if you have a really good game. You need to take their eyes away.”
F Travis Barron
“That game was something me and my teammates won’t forget for the rest of our lives. It was really cool to walk out and hear thousands of people cheering for an outdoor game.”
On keeping a routine during a game with lots of TV timeouts… “It was better that way, because you talk to coach a lot more about what’s going to happen on the next faceoff or who they’re going to put out. So, it’s better for us. You learn some more stuff and adapt to the game.”
- At the coldest, it was -16 degrees at TD Place during the contest, with the wind chill dipping below -20. At puck drop, it was -12.
- This was the coldest outdoor game in Ontario Hockey League history.
- The other two games took place in Detroit, MI on December 29, 2013, where the temperature was seven degrees.
- The 67’s did not relinquish the shot lead for the entire game – they finished the game with a 29-21 advantage in the shot category.
- The Olympiques only had 10 shots in the first two periods of the game.
- Ottawa’s penalty kill was perfect on the evening, killing off both Gatineau power plays – they now rank eighth in the OHL with a success rate of 80.7 per cent.
- Gatineau’s win gives them eight straight victories dating back to their QMJHL schedule – they have taken at least a point in each of their last 12 games.
67’s single-game tickets start at $12 and are available at Ottawa67s.com/Single-Game-Tickets, by calling 613.232.6767 or in person at The Box Office at TD Place. All minor hockey players part of the 67’s Prospect Program get in for FREE. For more information on the 67’s Prospect Program click here.