The Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League were in Oshawa to cap off a three games in three nights road trip against the Generals on Sunday evening, a game that posed significant challenges never before faced by a young 67’s team. This was their first true road trip, and for many of the players on the roster, the first time experiencing one of the most gruelling weekends teams need to go through. The third game in as many days give even the best junior hockey teams trouble, and it was no different for Ottawa.
With 10 minutes to go in the game, it looked like it was sure to be a loss for the 67’s. A tough loss to stomach for sure, but a great learning experience nonetheless. Brett Harrison had just scored his second goal of the game to give the Generals a 3-0 lead, but the 67’s still had some magic up their sleeves. Four goals in a two minutes and 33-second span gave Ottawa a 4-3 lead before they would eventually win the game in a shootout, proving once again that #NoQuit is more than a motto for the team, even after losing most of their roster and their head coach Andre Tourigny since they last played. Here’s what you need to know about the 67’s exceptional comeback and win.
67’s Snatch Victory From the Jaws of Defeat
Down 3-0 late in the game after things spiralled out of control thanks to three penalties (two should be considered suspect at best) is certainly not the place you want to find yourself, but it’s exactly where the 67’s were on Sunday evening. After controlling the first period, the 67’s lost their way in the second and third, and it looked like they were headed for the loss, but something sparked inside the team in the latter half of the third period. Something that the coaches and upper management have been preaching since they were brought to Ottawa, never quit.
With just under seven minutes to play, the 67’s got their first goal of the game courtesy of Jack Beck on a beauty of a shot from the sideboards. Then just 44-second later, Thomas Johnston scored a goal that brought the 67’s within one goal, a goal that Alec Belanger (who was calling the game with Kenny Walls for TSN 1200 as he continues to recover from injury) was loving.
“That play starts at the blue line with [Vinznez] Rohrer just making a great play finding Vsevolod Gaidamak to spring it into the zone, it starts there,” said Belanger. “A great finish my [Johnston] in his hometown. I know he’s excited for this game and his parents are here, probably some friends and family for him. It’s a big goal for him, and I think we have them right where we want them.”
“I think we have them right where we want them” is certainly a bold statement considering the team was down by three goals not a minute before, but it turned out to be right. Just 18-seconds after Patrick Leaver fished the puck out of the back of his net on the 67’s second goal, Dylan Robinson scored against his former team, tieing the game at three.
“Wow,” said Belanger after a long pause, followed by another long pause. “I’m liking the energy on the bench right now. That’s a big goal for Dylan Robinson, a guy who deserves it, a guy who has been working really hard. I’m actually at a loss of words right now. What a turn of events. I just said we had them right where we want them, and that’s what it looks like. I just saw the goalie for the Oshawa Generals throw his hands in the air like he didn’t even know what was happening, so there a little rattled.”
The comeback was complete, but the 67’s weren’t happy settling for just that. Matthew Mayich gave the 67’s the lead. The lead was short-lived, but Ottawa took the win in a shootout. They say to never leave a junior hockey game early, and if you ever wondered why that is, the 67’s and Generals gave you a perfect example of why that is. Simply an outstandingly entertaining hockey game that only the OHL can provide.
Matthew Mayich Scores First OHL Goal
The big story was obviously the comeback, but Mayich scored his first goal in the OHL to give the 67’s a lead late in the game. It wasn’t quite as pretty as Alex Ovechkin‘s first goal in the NHL, but it counts just the same. After a nice cross-ice pass from Beck, Mayich took a shot that bounced off the leg of Tyler Tullio before skipping over Leaver’s shoulder and into the back of the net.
No matter how the puck goes in the net, it’s always nice to get the first one out of the way. In the 2019-20 season, a couple of members of the 67’s were forced to wait quite a while before getting their first. Thomas Johnston didn’t score until the last game of the season, and both Jack Matier and Anthony Costantini had to wait until this season to score their first goal. It’s not easy, but now for Mayich, it’s out of the way and the weight has been lifted off of his shoulders.
Red-Hot Jack Beck
Jack Beck was the scorer of the 67’s first goal on the night, but the goal was just one is his league-high eight this season. As it stands right now, Beck is tied for the league lead in goals with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds’ forward, Tye Kartye. Playing on a line with Mitch Hoelscher and Jack Quinn in 2019-20, we saw flashes of what Beck could become. In that season, he scored seven goals and 19 points in 56 games. With the expectations turned up this season, Beck has met them, and the Calgary Flames sixth-round pick in 2021 is looking like he could possibly challenge for the goal-scoring title at the end of the season.
Before the season, questions swirled about who the 67’s would lean on for their goal scoring. Having only scored seven goals in his rookie season, many people brushed off the possibility of Beck being a legitimate scorer at the OHL level, but now in the season that should be his third if not for a global pandemic, he is stepping into Quinn’s shoes and has become a number one option for Ottawa.
Only time will tell if this pace is sustainable, but the 67’s and the Flames have to be loving what they are seeing from Beck early this season. He’s a really smart hockey play who can score the gritty goals or get open for a pass, but he also has a lethal shot that can earn him a goal anytime he uses it. Beck is red-hot right now.
A Very Successful Weekend
The 67’s successfully bounced back from their Friday night loss in Mississauga by beating the Barrie Colts 3-0 on Saturday and the Oshawa Generals 5-4 on Sunday. The 2-1 record is really impressive for such a young team on their first real road trip, and it needs to be considered a successful weekend all things considered. After the weekend, Ottawa stands with a record of 5-3-0-0 and in a tie with the North Bay Battalion and Hamilton Bulldogs for first in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. It’s early of course, but it’s never a bad time to be tied for first.
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!