Playing their first Ontario Hockey League game since March 10, 2020, the Ottawa 67’s certainly did not approach this afternoon’s contest like it was an exhibition game.
In what ended up being a tightly-contested battle with the Peterborough Petes, the Barber Poles earned a hard-fought 2-1 shootout win on the road. Veteran forward Cam Tolnai scored the game’s first goal 3:59 in, and 2021 first-rounder Chris Barlas came up with a massive shootout goal, before fellow 2021 draftee Cooper Foster potted the winner, and sent the 67’s home with a preseason-opening victory. Goaltenders Will Cranley and Collin MacKenzie were superb, splitting the 60-minute regulation time period, and combining to turn aside 34 of 35 Peterborough shots.
It was a textbook start for the Barber Poles, who came roaring out of the gate right from the opening faceoff. They played, fast, physical, and were rewarded with multiple scoring chances in the Peterborough zone. It didn’t take them long to break through, with Ranvir Gill-Shane receiving a feed from Matthew Mayich, and making a stretch pass to Tolnai, who streaked in on Tye Austin, and fired a shot past the Petes netminder to open the scoring, and tally the first 67’s goal in 18 months.
Despite controlling the flow of play for most of the period, the 67’s saw their lead evaporate in the final minute of the frame, when Tucker Robertson’s deflection found its way into the Ottawa net, tying the score at 1-1.
The second period saw both teams trade excellent scoring chances, each getting a powerplay opportunity and switching goaltenders halfway through the frame. Fresh off of committing to the 67’s yesterday, the 16 year-old MacKenzie entered the Ottawa crease, and was lights-out from the get-go. All told, the netminder stopped 18 of 18 shots, turning in an outstanding OHL debut in tandem with Cranley, who also made a series of tremendous saves.
Ottawa saw plenty of chances of their own in the second, including from Teddy Sawyer, Mayich, and Will Gerrior – who committed to the team this morning – but new Petes netminder Michael Simpson kept the score tied at one apiece.
A penalty-filled third period afforded the 67’s an extended five-on-three powerplay, with Steven Laforme, as well as Barlas, and another 2021 selection in Luca Pinelli creating scoring chances, but that decisive goal narrowly eluded the Barber Poles. At the other end, MacKenzie continued to stand tall, making nine of his 18 stops in the third period, with the game on the line.
As regulation came to an end, and the score remained tied, the two teams headed to a shootout, with there being no overtime in the OHL preseason. Robertson opened the skills competition with a goal for the Petes, but Barlas immediately responded for the 67’s. Neither team converted on their next chance, and after a huge stop by MacKenzie on Sam Alfano, the game came down to Foster. The 32nd overall pick moved in on Simpson, and made no mistake on a nifty move to lift Ottawa to a preseason-opening victory.
- The 67’s had a total of 11 players making their OHL debuts; Foster, MacKenzie, Barlas, Pinelli, Mayich, Gerrior, Brady Stonehouse, Jack Dever, Brad Gardiner, Derek Smyth, and Thomas Sirman.
- Yanic Crete was excellent at the faceoff dot, winning 12 out of 18 draws.
- Sawyer, Mayich, and Gerrior finished tied for the team lead in shots, registering four each.
- This was the first 67’s game that went to a shootout since February 16, 2020.
- Today’s win is the Barber Poles’ first in a preseason game since September 1, 2019: an 8-2 decision over the Sudbury Wolves.
Up Next: The 67’s will return to preseason action on September 18, when they roll into Kingston to face the Frontenacs for a 7pm EDT puckdrop.