Ottawa 67’s heading into playoffs with best-ever win, point totals

“They have one quality I can’t teach or develop in them: competitiveness. It’s in the DNA of these kids.”

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67 5, Colt’s 1

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The Ottawa 67 made history on Saturday.

While the afternoon game (with more than 6,000 fans indoors) between the 67’s and Barrie Colts didn’t change the Ontario Hockey League standings, a 5-1 win over the Colts meant Ottawa finished with franchise records for wins (51st-51st). ) and points (107) in one season. It’s a remarkable achievement for a team with such a successful history.

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How did it all come together, how did a hard working young team adding elite players Logan Morrison and Pavel Mintyukov at the close become the best team in the OHL?

“You find different ways to get them to play right, to play your system,” said 67 head coach Dave Cameron. “If you keep preaching, good things will happen. If you look at our hockey club, they bought in for Christmas or mid-January last year. They were very open and receptive to coaching. They have one quality I can’t teach or develop in them: competitiveness. It’s in the DNA of these kids. That’s a big part of why we set the record for wins and points.

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“If you are competitive, you are competitive 24/7. They don’t switch competitiveness on and off. If you have it, you have it. That gets you through the dog days when you have injuries when guys went to world juniors and stuff like that. That’s the main reason we’ve won 51 times. I’ve been at it long enough to know that when you have a competitive team, don’t put a cap on that, especially at this age.

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Records aside, it’s finally time for the playoffs. The 67ers open their first round playoff series against the Oshawa Generals on Thursday. With the Men’s World Curling Championship being played April 1-9 at the TD Place arena, the ’67ers will play their early playoff home games at the Slush Puppie Arena in Gatineau.

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The Colts suspended several key players Saturday, including defensemen Brandt Clarke and Connor Punnett, and their top two scorers: centers Ethan Cardwell and Evan Vierling.

Ottawa played its third game in three days, beating the Peterborough Petes 4-1, 4-2, and the 67ers got off to a slow start on Saturday, with the Colts controlling the game, although the hosts picked it up in the last two periods.

In the middle of the first period, Barrie took a 1-0 lead through Ben Pickell’s goal.

The 67ers equalized early in the second half on a power play, with Brady Stonehouse making a nice play to avoid a slipping defender and then smashing in his own rebound.

Ottawa went 7-11 into the second period 2-1 when Pavel MIntyukov rushed in from the blue line and scored. It was 3-1 with 4:37 in the period when a fine pass from Morrison got Stonehouse wide and he scored his 37th goal of the season.

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The ’67s killed a double minor by Derek Smythe (cross-checking and interference) that lasted into the third period. Ottawa made it 4-1 on a wrist shot by Gavin Ewles from the point. The highlight of the evening was a terrific back-and-forth, back-and-forth passing game between Morrison and Stonehouse, who broke in on a two-man breakaway. Morrison ended it with the goal. The significance? It was Morrison’s 40th goal of the season.

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“We talked about it in the room,” said Stonehouse, who passed Morrison instead of shooting and attempting his hat-trick. “He was at 39 goals. I could have shot but why not have a 40 goal scorer? None of us (on this team) will ever be selfish. We always have each other’s backs. We play for each other, it’s a brotherhood.”

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“You’re not going to get first place if you don’t have good team chemistry,” Cameron said. “When guys don’t like each other, play for each other and protect each other… and this is probably a prime example of that.”

It was a remarkable season for the ’67s, finishing well ahead of any other OHL team. Their goal difference was 115 (286 for and 171 against) in 68 games.

“I don’t think anyone expected us to have a franchise record,” Stonehouse said. “But we started hot. We work hard, we get up at 6:30 every morning. We are always working to get better.”

“We got off to a great start and just kept going,” Cameron said. “We found different ways to win games. Sometimes it was goalkeepers, sometimes defense, sometimes attack, sometimes special teams. When you’re consistent it shows character and when you have that you have to be able to find different ways to win hockey games and you also have to have some luck. We’ll enjoy it for a few days. We know it’s a clean slate going into the playoffs and it’s a whole different ball game.”


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