It was not a fun night to be a 67’s fan. They were locked in another tight battle with the Peterborough Petes where space came at a premium, but they weren’t up to snuff on the night. The Petes were simply the better of the two teams and earned a well-deserved 4-1 win as they look to secure themselves a playoff spot.
67’s Out-Skated and Out-Battled
Since coming back from the Christmas break about a month and a half ago, the 67’s have been playing some solid hockey. They have been the more physical team, the faster teams, and the harder working teams on most nights, but on Thursday in Peterborough, they were none of those things. Even though it was the Petes playing their second game in as many nights, it was the 67’s who looked like the tired team.
This issue was particularly prevalent with the special teams. On the power play, the 67’s had seven chances but only found the back of the net once, their only goal of the game. On the flip side, they were short-handed four times and allowed two goals on those chances. They were out-classed entirely when the special teams’ units were on the ice.
Late in the second period, it seemed like Ottawa was starting to take the game to the Petes, but a late penalty given to Alex Johnston that singled him out of a pile filled with crosschecks and punches put an end to the momentum. In the third, the Petes scored a pair of goals to ice the game away and the 67’s were a touch flat for the first time in a while.
Games like this are bound to happen, especially for a young team. These teams have played each other very close so far this season, and it makes sense when you consider that they have been battling for playoff positioning. These are games that the 67’s can’t afford to have frequently, however. If this is a one-off this weekend, they can move forward and forget about it, but they will need a much better effort against both the Oshawa Generals and Mississauga Steelheads.
Will Cranley Continues to Struggle
Lately, the usually-reliable Will Cranley has been struggling. He has had a string of games where he hasn’t been able to come up with the big save the team needs to have a chance to win the game. That was once again the case on Thursday night in Peterborough, but even if Cranley did play his best game of the season, there’s likely little chance he would have etched a number in the winning side of the ledger.
It’s important that Dave Cameron and the 67’s find a way to get Cranley back on track before they face some of the Eastern Conference’s best teams in the coming weeks. When he has been on his game this season, he has been arguably the best goaltender in the OHL, and if not the best, he’s been close to it. His low points have been passable and about average for goaltending in this league, but he’s far better than he has shown in the past handful of starts.
While he has been struggling, rookie Max Donoso has been able to hold down the fort and has been playing exceptionally well in the past few weeks. They will need both goalies playing well enough that they can have the confidence to play either going forward and the sooner that Cranley can find his game, the better.
No Time to Dwell
The 67’s will be back on the ice on Friday night at home against the generals before another home date against the Steelheads on Sunday afternoon. Neither game is going to be easy for the 67’s as both teams have given them issues at times this season. They have played the Generals close, but the Steelheads have been a massive problem for the 67’s with their size and speed this season. They are in for a good test in both games, but earning some points would be great for the team in the standings and with their confidence.