The Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League rolled into Peterborough on Thursday night feeling good after winning their past three games. As the playoff race intensifies, games against the Petes have become even more important. It started well for the 67’s, but things changed quickly and the Petes took two points to the back, winning by a score of 5-3. Certainly a tough loss, but there was plenty that can be taken from a positive side in this game.
Luca Pinelli’s Up and Down Night
Whatever Luca Pinelli ate during the Christmas break, he should continue eating. He has been on fire since the season resumed, scoring five points in four games with all five of those points coming in his last two games. After scoring a goal and adding a pair of assists to close out the weekend last week, Pinelli got off to a hot start in this contest scoring two goals in the first period.
The first of his goals came on a rocket of a shot on the power play to give the 67’s a one-goal lead early in the game. It offered a glimpse into what he is capable of. When Pinelli has a chance to unleash his cannon of a shot, goaltenders take notice. He’s starting to put the puck in the back of the net, and in just his first OHL season, the sky is the limit for what Pinelli can achieve. He has big footsteps to follow with his brother Francesco Pinelli putting up good numbers with the Kitchener Rangers.
His second goal of the night was a strange one. His shot deflected off a Petes’ defender and into the net, but when you’re hot, you’re hot. Pinelli won’t complain about that bounce going his way.
It wasn’t all good news for Pinelli on Thursday night, however. At the end of the game with things all but sealed, he was assessed a match penalty for a slew foot. The call, although questionable, will see him out of the lineup for the rest of the weekend in all likelihood and with the offence already missing for the 67’s, this is a big blow.
There is much to be positive about regarding Pinelli. He’s looking more comfortable every game and he’s starting to be a difference-maker offensively. Every time you watch him play, you see him make strides and get better.
Second & Third Period Collapse Deflates 67’s
Heading into the locker room after the first period, the 67’s not only had a 3-1 lead on the scoreboard, but they controlled the pace of the game and were the much more physical team. They were in a great spot to put their foot to the floor and back the Petes into the corner, but the script was flipped on them right off the start.
In the second period, the Petes scored three unanswered goals while the 67’s failed to generate much offence. Even with an extended chance on the power play, the best chances to score came from Peterborough, and just like that, Ottawa was heading back to the dressing room in a much different scenario than they left it. They were down by a goal heading into the third.
The story was much the same in the third. The 67’s again had an extended opportunity on the power play, but they couldn’t make anything of it. They had their chances including an open cage for Pinelli to score his third of the contest, but Michael Simpson dove across the crease to rob him. Sometimes that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. The puck found its way into the net at one end of the ice, and at the other, it just wouldn’t go.
It wasn’t for a lack of effort, but there’s no question this one is going to sting a little bit for a young 67’s team who is still waiting for Tyler Boucher to join the team and Jack Beck to return. It was a game that they had complete control of after the opening 20 minutes, but they couldn’t hold on. It cost them a four-point swing in the standings, an important swing as they battle for a playoff spot with these very Petes.
Thomas Sirman Seeing Plenty of Ice
A quick google search of the name “Thomas Sirman” will bring up the fact that he is a defenceman. If that’s all you knew, you would be wondering why he’s been playing as a forward for the past handful of weeks. With Boucher and Beck out of the lineup and Brenden Sirizzotti and Dylan Robinson leaving the team at the Trade Deadline, head coach Dave Cameron has had no choice but to move one of his defencemen forward.
Sirman has been the choice for the odd role, but it has been for good reason. As he has become more comfortable in his new position, he has seen his ice time increase, even starting this game along with Alex Johnston and Pinelli.
Since returning from Christmas break, Sirman has recorded three points in four games and had recorded at least a point in each game leading up to Thursday’s contest. He didn’t earn a point in this game, but what he has been earning over the past couple of games is the trust of his coaches.
When he does get moved back to his natural position, he will be better for it. Sirman has been adaptable in all of this craziness and he has shown that he will do whatever it takes to play every night. He’s adding an offensive element to his game, shown perfectly by his stunning goal in North Bay on New Year’s eve. For now, he’s doing everything he can to help his team.
Chris Barlas Scores First Point
For Chris Barlas, his first point has been a long time coming. For the first 23 games of the season, the 67’s first-round pick in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection has been held off the scoresheet, being unable to register even an accidental assist. It’s been a difficult first half of the season for the rookie, but finally, the monkey is off his back and he has his first OHL point 24 games into the season.
Midway through the first period, Barlas sent a pass to linemate Thomas Johnston who buried it into the back of the net securing the first point for Barlas. Scoring isn’t Barlas’ primary concern, of course. The young forward’s bread and butter is getting to the front of the net and into other dirty areas around the ice. He will be hoping that this can act as a jump start for some more offensive production, but it’s not like he hasn’t had his chances this season.
He’s put his head down and continued to play his game all year long despite the offensive struggles. He was rewarded for his efforts in Peterborough, and if he continues to produce in other areas of the game, the offence will follow.
It’s going to be a long bus ride home for the 67’s after falling apart on Thursday night, but they won’t have much time to think about it. When they step off the bus after it arrives back at TD Place, their attention will be turned to the Niagara IceDogs. Despite the ‘Dogs being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, their only meeting to date with the 67’s resulted in a win. It’s a good chance for the 67’s to get back to their winning ways before they face Eastern Conference favourite, the Hamilton Bulldogs on Saturday afternoon.