On Friday night, the Peterborough Petes made the trip to Ottawa to take on the 67’s for the first time of the season. Both teams have had very different seasons so far, with the Petes sitting 16th in the Ontario Hockey League with eight points in 11 games and the 67’s in fourth in the league with 14 points in 11 games after play on Friday night. The game was close right up until the end when Ottawa capitalized multiple times on the power play, and after a lengthy delay to repair a broken pane of glass, the 67’s held on to record a 6-3 win, their seventh win of the season.
Special Teams Decide Game for 67’s
With just over 10 minutes reaming in the game, Petes’ forward J.R. Avon was given a match penalty for a slew foot that put the dangerous 67’s power-play unit on the ice for five uninterrupted minutes. It didn’t take long for the 67’s to strike with the power-play unit on the ice. Just 26 seconds into the power play, Vsevolod Gaidamak finished a chance set up with two beautiful passes from Vinzenz Rohrer and Jack Beck.
The Petes would continue to shoot themselves in the foot with yet another penalty, this time Donovan McCoy for cross-checking. The 67’s went to work with a 5-on-3 chance for a full two minutes, and after some time spent passing the puck around the outside, Jack Matier let a shot go that beat Liam Sztuska cleanly and extended Ottawa’s lead to two goals.
“I think it’s just because we have two power-play units that can score goals,” said Brenden Sirizzotti, who scored two goals on the night. “It’s not just one stacked unit; we kinda have both of them balanced out where if they have some chances and don’t score, then the next unit goes out, and they get chances. Altogether, the more chances you get, eventually, one is going to go in. I think just having a balanced two units is better than a stacked one unit.”
It wasn’t just the power play for the 67’s, however. Their penalty kill was also good on the night, killing four of the five chances they gave to the Petes. It has previously been mentioned that staying out of the penalty box is one of head coach Dave Cameron’s keys, but despite taking five penalties, he wasn’t too bothered with the penalties his team took.
“What does stay out of the box mean,” asked Cameron post-game. “Do I agree with every penalty that’s called? No, but there’s nothing I can do about it. When I say stay out of the box, it’s the undisciplined [penalties]. The stick ones in the offensive zone.”
“Teddy Sawyer today in the neutral zone, he has to give that bump, it was a penalty,” continued Cameron. “Am I mad at that? No, not at all. Barlas is really aggressive on the forecheck, and he goes through the guy. Am I mad at that? No, not at all. Sometimes you can’t just look at the numbers.”
The special teams ultimately decided the game, and the 67’s downright had the better unit on the night. Going three for seven on the power play isn’t too bad at all, and it propelled Ottawa to a win and a big one at that.
Brenden Sirizzotti’s Big Night
The last couple of games have been filled with uncertainty for Brenden Sirizzotti. He has been a healthy scratch a couple of times and has scored some big goals at other times. Back into the lineup Friday night, Sirizzotti scored a pair of goals to help lead the 67’s over the Petes, which doesn’t come as a big surprise considering his ability to score goals.
“Brenden is one of those guys that I gotta convince that don’t just evaluate that because you scored it’s a good game,” said Cameron. “It’s the process, and his game is quite simple, when he’s moving his feet and going, he’s a good player in this league. Like every other player in this league, if he slows it down, teams track too hard, and it’s too competitive of a league, they struggle.”
“I liked parts of [his game],” continued Cameron. “I’m a hard guy to please. Just because he had two goals doesn’t mean he had a great game either, but give him credit for that, it was two big ones.”
Not a perfect performance, according to Cameron, but it was still one that can be built off of. There was an extra bounce in the step of Sirizzotti, it seemed, especially in the first period. He looked like a much more rounded player compared to where we have seen him at times this season, even though Cameron wants to see that continue to improve.
“I think it’s just good emotions,” said Sirizzotti. “Working hard in practice, it doesn’t matter if you get scratched or not; everyone is going to get scratched here and there in their career. I think it’s just about how you bounce back and push hard. People are going to come to take your spot, but you gotta take it back.”
Chris Barlas Continues to Improve
In the 2021 OHL Priority Selection, the 67’s spent the 12th-overall pick on Ottawa native Chris Barlas. Things got off to a rocky start when Barlas missed time with a non-COVID-related illness, but he has been working his way back since coming back a few weeks ago.
“Well, he’s just getting back up to speed,” said Cameron. “He missed three weeks where he couldn’t do anything. It’s not like it was an injury where he could work out or skate and stuff like that, he couldn’t do anything. He’s getting back up to speed, he’s competitive, he’s smart, and he’s a good player.”
Barlas is yet to hit the scoresheet in the OHL, but with the way he has been playing, it should be sooner rather than later that milestone comes true for him. At times, he has been one of the better rookies on the team, especially now as he begins to hit his stride in his new surroundings. He has been very impressive, and it looks like the 67’s have got themselves a player that can be effective in the here and now but can also be a player to build around in the future.
More to Come
The weekend isn’t over for the 67’s as the North Bay Battalion comes to town Sunday. The Battalion come riding a high after beating the Kingston Frontenacs 5-4 on the road on Friday night, but they also currently sit first in the conference. Don’t look now, but the 67’s stand in second. Two teams that no one could have expected to be number one and number two square off, and it should be a good one.
Currently a journalism student at Algonquin College in Ottawa, I have always had a passion for the OHL and the Ottawa 67’s in particular. I have been attending games since I was young, and being involved with sports has always been a dream of mine. Sports writing fits perfectly into that. You can also find me talking and writing other sports (primarily Canadian football) on my website 13thmansports.ca!