Steelheads Size Gives 67’s Fits in Shutout Loss

The Mississauga Steelheads came into Ottawa and spoiled the final game of the 67’s five-game homestand. The Friday night battle in the Ontario Hockey League saw the 67’s fall 3-0 to the Steelheads, going against everything the standings tell us should have happened. This is the second time this season that the Steelheads have beat the 67’s and in convincing fashion both times. It wasn’t a great night to be a 67’s fan, but these kinds of games happen, especially to those who are rebuilding. If you missed the game, here’s what you missed.

Steelheads Size Makes Things Tough

One of the biggest things (no pun intended) noticeable about the Steelheads, particularly on the blue line, is their size. They boast some big players, including Ole Bjorgvik-Holm (6-foot-3), Evan Brand (6-foot-6), Kasper Larsen (6-foot-5), and Ethan Del-Mastro (6-foot-4). Their size is something that the 67’s haven’t been exposed to this season other than in their games against the Steelheads, but it has given them problems in both of their meetings so far.

“It was one of those games where we weren’t very good,” said Dave Cameron, the Ottawa 67’s head coach. “They out-worked us, they were quicker than us, they out-competed us, they out-executed us. We had no puck poise. We looked really slow, and you get games like that, so just go through the tape and throw that one away.”

Dave Cameron, Ottawa 67's
Dave Cameron, head coach of the Ottawa 67’s (Frankie Benvenuti / The Hockey Writers)

“Even when we were there, we had no poise or presence,” Cameron continued. “You can’t enter the [offensive] zone unless you get through the neutral zone, which usually starts with a good breakout. That’s all about execution and puck poise. That was the big thing today.”

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For the majority of the game, it felt like the Steelheads were playing with a sixth player on the ice at all times. They were taking away the passing lanes effectively, making things difficult when the 67’s tried to chip and chase, and they didn’t allow too many great chances. Looking at the standings, it makes you wonder how they are down where they are. They played a great game, something Cameron is more than willing to tip his cap to.

“Hats off to Mississauga too. It wasn’t just about us not being good, they played a part in it too, so hats off to them for that.”

Teddy Sawyer’s 50th Career Game

It took much longer than anyone could have ever anticipated, thanks to a global pandemic, but over two years since he made his debut in the OHL, Teddy Sawyer appeared in his 50th game on Friday night. While he would have been hoping for a much better result in the milestone game, just reaching the mark is something to be proud of.

Teddy Sawyer, Ottawa 67's
Teddy Sawyer, Ottawa 67’s (Frankie Benvenuti / The Hockey Writers)

Of course, Sawyer was unable to get on the scoresheet with the 67’s failure to beat Steelheads’ goaltender Joe Ranger on the night, but it wasn’t a bad game for Sawyer. As fans should be accustomed to by now, Sawyer continued playing his physical brand of hockey, hitting just about anything that moves but rarely chasing a hit that would take him out of position. His passing wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t too bad either, and you certainly couldn’t fault the effort that he turned in.

Through his first 50 games in the OHL, Sawyer has scored four goals and added five more assists, with one goal and one assist coming in the first 14 games on the 2021-22 season. The Columbus, Ohio native has become a mainstay on the 67’s blueline after rotating in and out of the lineup in 2019-20 with a trio of rookies, including himself, Anthony Costantini, and Ranvir Gill-Shane. There’s still work to be done before Sawyer can reach his full potential, but with every passing game, he seems to get closer and closer to being the defenceman the 67’s hope he can become.

67’s Shutout-Less Streak Ends

Not since February 23, 2020, had the 67’s been shut out in a game until Friday night. That game in 2020 was an away game against the Sudbury Wolves in one of the most forgettable weekends of the season for Ottawa. They lost to the lowly North Bay Battalion on the Thursday night before bouncing back against the Soo Greyhounds on Saturday. The 2-0 loss to the Wolves was the icing on the cake in possibly the worst weekend of the season for an otherwise mostly dominant team.

It doesn’t happen very often that the 67’s get shut out and even less often that they go down without much of a fight, but the Steelheads got the better of them in both scenarios on Friday night. Nothing was clicking offensively, but it wasn’t like they had a bunch of chances. Mississauga did a fantastic job of slowing down a fast-paced 67’s team, and they more than deserved the win.

Tough Road Ahead

After losing to the Steelheads, things won’t get any easier for the 67’s. They will be in Hamilton to take on the Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon before heading to Oshawa for yet another matchup with the Generals on Sunday evening. Both of those teams have been off to a hot start, and while the 67’s know what they are up against in Oshawa, the Bulldogs are a complete unknown to them so far. It will be their first matchup against Hamilton this season, and it’s going to be interesting to see how that game goes. They have a potent offensive core that can do some serious damage in short order.

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