The Ottawa 67’s closed their week with a match against the North Bay Battalion on Sunday afternoon, a game that had standings implications as Ottawa chases North Bay down. This game took extra time to decide, but the Battalion got a big performance from one of their rookies and squeaked out a 3-2 win in the shootout.
67’s Deserved Better Fate
Despite the Battalion being much higher in the standings compared to the 67’s, this game was not the lopsided game that would have suggested. The game was close and for a good portion of it, the 67’s controlled the pace and had the better chances. Halfway through the first period, Thomas and Alex Johnston once again got their team on the board and the 67’s took a 1-0 lead.
The Battalion answered back before defenceman Thomas Sirman, who has been playing forward the past few months and was moved back up when Tyler Boucher was hurt, responded with a goal of his own. Now late in the game and the Battalion in search of a goal, they got their wish on a penalty shot, sending the game to overtime.
Ottawa would lose the game in the shootout, but it wasn’t a game they necessarily deserved to lose. They played a hard game and head coach Dave Cameron has to be happy with what he saw for the most part. There were some moments where things came unhinged and the Battalion had their chances, but the 67’s are young and that should be expected. You would have liked to see them come away with two points in this game, especially because it was in the palm of their hand after the Sirman goal, but to leave North Bay, a place that has been notoriously hard to play for the 67’s in the past, with a point is still good news.
Owen Van Steensel Has Way With 67’s
If you didn’t know who Owen Van Steensel was before this game, you almost certainly do now. Through 39 games, the rookie forward has scored six goals and added another six assists for the Troops and on Sunday, he was a 67’s killer. He scored both of the regulation time goals for the Battalion and unofficially completed the hat trick with the only goal in the shootout.
Van Steensel likely wasn’t a name that would have been circled on the whiteboards in the 67’s dressing room, but he stepped up and took his game to another level while Ottawa had their way with stars Brandon Coe and Ty Nelson. If Ottawa had a chance of a do-over against Van Steensel, perhaps they would have played him a little closer on both of his goals, but sometimes, you just have to tip your cap to the opponent and admit they had a great game.
Good Week for the 67’s
Any time you have to play a Memorial Cup contender and have to do the northern trip in one week, you know it’s going to be a tough time, especially as a young team like the 67’s are. Playing the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Sudbury Wolves, and the Battalion in one week left the young Ottawa squad staring down a mountain as they looked to score some points, but walking away with three of a possible six points is a success in this instance.
The three points are big in the standings, but perhaps the most important thing about this weekend was the continued growth of the young team. They have been playing great hockey since coming back from the Christmas break, but this was a significant test. Minus some of their big names still, the 67’s gave the Bulldogs all they could handle on Wednesday night on the road before beating the Wolves and battling hard against the Battalion just days later. It might not seem like much, but they are heading in the right direction.
More Pivital Games Coming
Now is a good time for the 67’s to have some rest because next weekend, the games are important. They will have another Thursday night visit with the Peterborough Petes before and a home and home series with the Niagara IceDogs on Friday and Sunday. The 67’s will be back at home on Sunday afternoon. It’s a good chance to pick up another chunk of points and further distance themselves from those teams behind them in the standings.