The Sudbury Wolves hosted the Ottawa 67’s for the second time in the 2021-22 Ontario Hockey League season. A pair of teams battling for a playoff spot went toe to toe in a close game that was fast and physical the whole time. Ultimately, the 67’s were the better team on the night and they earned themselves a 3-1 victory to put them 10 points clear of the Wolves in the standings having played the same number of games.
Tyler Boucher Makes Debut
There was a buzz in the city of Ottawa this week as it was announced that barring a setback, Tyler Boucher would be making his debut with the 67’s on Friday night in Sudbury. Boucher was the Ottawa Senators’ 10th-overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and started the season with Boston University before signing with the Sens in December. After rehabbing from his COVID-19 diagnosis and the OHL returning to play after the Christmas break, Boucher was assigned to the 67’s a few weeks back. Fans waited patiently for his debut, and after a couple of games missed, he was finally about to make his debut with the barber poles.
Boucher was double shifted right off the bat and looked relatively comfortable with his new club. He made a couple of hits and made some good, smart plays. He played a handful of shifts before delivering a hit behind the Wolves’ goal where afterwards, he would come up holding his shoulder. That was the last shift he played, meaning his debut with the 67’s lasted just over 12 minutes.
It’s another name in a long string of key injuries for the 67’s this season. They have been aching for a veteran presence who can do the things that Boucher can do, and after waiting for what felt like forever, it may have all been washed down the drain in 12 minutes of hockey. The exact injury and the expected timeline for his return are still to be determined, but already missing some of their best players, this is a big blow for Dave Cameron and his team.
Since the begging of the season, Thomas Johnston has been making his impact felt with the 67’s after a rookie season where he only scored one goal. Earlier in the season, the team brought in Alex Johnston, and since then, he has started becoming more and more comfortable in his surroundings and has picked up the pace in the past couple of games. The pair shared a line on Friday night in Sudbury with Boucher, but things were jumbled around after he left the game. Despite the shakeup, both Thomas and Alex Johnston made their presence felt on the scoresheet.
Each scored a goal in this contest. Alex Johnston opened the scoring in the second period with a nice shot on a breakaway. With his third goal of the season, he also notched his 50th career point in the OHL. Just under five minutes later, the 67’s struck again, this time it was Thomas Johnston scoring the goal with Alex Johnston registering an assist. Both played an instrumental role in the team’s win and stepped up massively when they were called on.
Through his first 12 games with the 67’s, Alex Johnston has scored nine points. He’s not a player that was previously known for his scoring with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and was primarily brought in for a veteran presence and leadership, but he has been scoring at a pace he has never before seen. Soon, the pair are going to need a nickname. Johnston squared would work, perhaps Johnston & Johnston, or maybe JJ, but no matter what it is, it seems that the players who share a last name are on the same wavelength on the ice.
Max Donoso’s Rock Solid Stretch
When Collin MacKenzie went down with an injury in November, Max Donoso was recalled from the Central Canada Hockey League’s Hawkesbury Hawks to replace him. Since coming to Ottawa, Donoso has been good, but recently, he has been exceptional.
On Friday night, Donoso turned aside 33 of 34 shots directed his way and made a couple of big saves early in the game to keep the affair tied. In his time with the 67’s, he has posted a 2.18 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage and has won his past three games. He has allowed Cameron to use starting goaltender Will Cranley a little bit less and he has given his team a chance to win the games he has played. You can’t as for much more out of a rookie goaltender.
Weekend Wraps Up
Good efforts in Hamilton and Sudbury will have the 67’s riding a bit of a high as they head to their final destination of the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, they will take on the struggling Battalion in North Bay. In previous meetings, the 67’s have a 3-1 record against the Troops this season. With the Battalion struggling and the 67’s playing well, the two are separated by just eight points in the standings. Ottawa does have two games in hand at the moment, but this game is one of those four-point games that are critical come the end of the season. A win would be oh so sweet.