By Jared Crozier, SenShot
The Ottawa 67's couldn't overcome a dreadful first period en route to a 3-2 loss to the division rival Belleville Bulls on Sunday afternoon. Keegan Wilson was pulled from the 67's net after allowing 3 goals on just 11 shots. Jacob Blair was good in relief, stopping all 15 shots he faced. Meanwhile, Malcolm Subban got the day off and his replacement, Charlie Graham was solid, making 33 saves for the win. Steven Janes and Dante Salituro each had a goal and an assist in the losing cause.
Wilson made a nice save and looked like he had it smothered, but it popped out from underneath him and the ensuing scramble saw the puck squirt to Joseph Cramarosa who buried it for the game's opening goal. Austen Brassard and Sean Callaghan had a fierce two round battle in front of the Ottawa netminder while the 67's were on the PK. The officials let it go for the most part, but finally both were whistled after Wilson got involved and the battle ended up in the crease. Garett Hooey doubled the lead on a strange goal that ping-longed around, eventually going off the post, Wilson's skate and in. Jordan Subban extended the lead further just moments later, with a wrister from the point that he blew past Wilson, ending the overager's day. Ryan Van Stralen tried to get his team going on the ensuing faceoff, and had a willing dance partner in Brassard. However, they were too far apart and the linesmen separated them before they even got started, each earning a ten minute misconduct for their actions. The 67's Lacked discipline as they kept a constant parade to the box, most notably Brett Gustavsen misconduct for abuse of officials after a Cody Ceci minor. All in all, it was a first period that the 67's don't want to remember. They trailed 3-0, were outshot 15-6 and gave the Bulls 4 power play opportunities.
The 67's got a golden opportunity early in the second, getting a 5-on-3 for a full 2 minutes. However, the power play let them down and the closest they could come was a goal post early in the power play. It did give them some momentum as Dante Salituro scored from in close just 24 seconds after the Bulls penalties had expired. Steven Janes clawed Ottawa within one as his seemingly harmless shot from the side boards somehow handcuffed Charlie Graham and crossed the goal line.
Blair made a spectacular save on Hooey as the midway point of the third approached, keeping the 67's within one and allowing his team the opportunity to complete the comeback. Alas, even a last minute power play didn't help as Ottawa could not get the equalizer and fell 3-2.
OBSERVATIONS & MUSINGS
When the 67's acquired Wilson in the off-season, I think they expected a more consistent effort. Right now he looks like a #2 on this team, and if Chris Byrne knew this was the performance he was going to get, Michael Nishi would likely still be wearing barber poles. If it was me, I would probably give Blair a solid run of games this month. He won't be any worse than Wilson, and he would gain valuable experience that would benefit the team in a couple of years when the 67's are contending again.
The 67's look to avoid a fourth straight home loss when the Mississauga Steelheads pay a visit on Tuesday night.