In a game that was rescheduled just two days before the new date, the Ottawa 67’s took on the Hamilton Bulldogs in Ontario Hockey League action. It was Mason McTavish’s final time wearing the Bulldogs jersey before heading to Beijing to represent Canada at the Olympics, and although he was held back from scoring a goal, he did register a pair of assists as Hamilton downed the 67’s 4-2.
67’s Solid 60
In reality, the 67’s were in need of a near-perfect game to get the result they wanted against the superior Bulldogs on Wednesday night. Hamilton made a series of moves at the Trade Deadline that thrust them firmly into the conversation of Eastern Conference favourites, while Ottawa traded away and lost various players that the team would be better with. The two teams are once again headed in different directions, but the effort was there from the 67’s for the full 60 minutes.
The Bulldogs opened the scoring quickly with a pair of goals from Avery Hayes and Nathan Staios, but the 67’s battled back with a goal of their own courtesy of Jack Matier. In the second period, the Bulldogs again scored a pair of to start, taking a 4-1 lead, but the 67’s stayed with the game plan and earned another back after Thomas Johnston sniped one over the shoulder of Marco Costantini, the brother of 67’s defenceman Anthony Costantini.
The difference on the night was Hamilton’s veteran offence capitalizing on their chances while the young 67’s, still without Tyler Boucher, Jack Beck, and Adam Varga, struggled to put the puck in the back of the net when they had their chances. That doesn’t come as a shock, typically the teams towards the bottom of the standings are there because they are young, and they tend to get even younger at the Trade Deadline.
Outside of chances being finished, this game was closely contested. The Bulldogs narrowly led on the shot clock 29-22, and if not for a struggling power-play unit for the 67’s that squandered four chances in this game, it could have been even closer. This was one of those losses that you are okay with.
Cranley’s Up and Down Night
The past couple of games have been an adventure for Will Cranley. After being unquestionably one of the league’s best goaltenders for the first half of the season, he has been on a little bit of a slump. There have been a couple of goals that he would want to have back in a few different games, and that was again the case on Wednesday night in Hamilton.
On two occasions, the usually sound Cranley was beaten cleanly on shots in this game. The first goal came on a harmless-looking shot from the board that beat him and served as a bit of a kick in the pants for the 67’s who were down early. Again in the second period, he was beaten cleanly by Hayes.
Tough stretches are bound to happen and it’s about how you respond to them. In the past, Cranley has been notoriously tough mentally and he showed that in Hamilton. In the third period, he came back and made a couple of massive saves including a couple of ten-bellers. It wasn’t the perfect game for him, but he bailed the team out on a couple of occasions.
Tyler Boucher to Make Debut Friday
Not too much else of note went down in Hamilton, but one storyline 67’s fans have been following closely in when Boucher will make his debut. He was on the practice ice this week with the 67’s, but he didn’t play in this game. As of now, it is expected that he will debut for the team when they head to Sudbury on Friday night to take on the Wolves.
Boucher will add a physical presence to the 67’s forward group along with a good deal of size at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds. It’s a combination that the 67’s don’t have at the moment, and while he’s not a veteran in the OHL, he will also bring some experience. His offensive production will be the interesting thing. If he can score at a clip comparable to his United States Hockey League numbers, it could be a massive bonus for Ottawa.
Tough Swing Begins
The 67’s tough road stretch was only supposed to start this weekend with a pair of games visiting the Sudbury Wolves and North Bay Battalion this weekend. Thanks to this game being rescheduled, that of course has chances, but the 67’s will now embark on their weekend trip as previously scheduled. Both the Wolves and Battalion have played thrilling hockey against the 67’s this season, and with both teams on a bit of a slide, it offers a good chance to earn some points.