The Ottawa 67’s, controlled by Cam Tolnai, are moving on to the second round of the CHL’s Memorial eCup after a convincing victory against the Calgary Hitmen and Luke Prokop.
Over the past few weeks, the CHL has been playing a tournament in EA Sports NHL ’21 to determine who is the best virtual hockey player in the league. The tournament is single elimination.
The 67’s scored nine goals in the game, tied for most in the first round with Luke Moncada and the North Bay Battalion. It was a typical game of NHL ’21 with some high flying offence and little to no defence, as has been the case for a large part of this tournament.
The CHL has never had a tournament of this magnitude before and it’s a new experience for everyone involved. All 60 teams are represented and some specials guests have also played games.
“It was really fun,” said Tolnai. “Being able to represent Ottawa in any kind of fashion is an honour and I want to do the best I can for both the team and myself. It felt a bit different from other games on NHL ’21 with the circumstances, but once it got going it felt the same and [I] got into the grove.”
The point totals in the game and the score-line were no surprise if you’ve been watching the 67’s over the past two years and, as usual, the first line was the catalyst for Tolnai and the 67’s in scoring nine goals: “The first line was clicking,” said Tolnai. “[Joseph Garreffa] had seven points on the afternoon. [Kevin Bahl] had a great one-timer off the start to get things going too.”
“Our team had a lot of depth last year and everyone can do it,” he continued. “At the end of the game, our fourth line got a goal. Having a defence with some big guys is really key in this game to shut down and block the cross-crease goals.”
Cross crease passes are one of the easiest ways to score in NHL ’21. Stopping them is nearly impossible and you are bound to get burnt eventually but limiting them is key to winning the game.
“I was basically being told not to lose,” said Tolnai. “We had two 50-win seasons back-to-back, so our team preaches excellence. Whatever we do, we have to win.”
Tolnai’s next game will be on Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. against the Erie Otters. The Otters are controlled by Brendan Hoffman. Hoffman and the Otters defeated the Seattle Thunderbirds 7-6.
It’s likely that this will be another high scoring game but that won’t shake Tolnai’s confidence. “I feel pretty good,” he said. “The first game is always the hardest, but now I know what to expect so it should be really fun.”
If you needed any proof that players want to win this tournament, Tolnai is taking it very seriously. “Now I can scout the other teams and try to prepare for hopefully a long tournament run,” he said.
Around the Tournament
As of this writing, eight round-two games have been completed. There will be matchups between the Sarnia Sting and Saginaw Spirit, Hamilton Bulldogs and Medicine Hat Tigers, Vancouver Giants and North Bay Battalion, and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Mississauga Steelheads.
There are still eight more round-two matchups to be played between Dec. 8 and 10.
Of the remaining 24 teams, 11 of them belong to the OHL who have dominated the tournament so far. Six of the teams remaining belong to the WHL, and seven belong to the QMJHL. All of the special guests have been eliminated from the tournament, and none of them were able to make it past the first round.