67's ignoring turmoil

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

With or without centre Peter Tsimikalis, the Ottawa 67's appear determined to move forward one way or the other.

It has been a tough week for the club following the abrupt departure of Tsimikalis, who bolted during a game last Saturday in Owen Sound following a dispute with coach and GM Brian Kilrea.

Despite this and all the questions surrounding the team's situation now that its top-line centre and third-leading scorer is at home in Aurora and has demanded a trade, the group seemed in relatively good spirits during yesterday's practice at the Civic Centre.

Near the end of the session, the team was divided into two groups for a speed-skating drill that saw a close battle before Julian Talbot edged Brody Todd at the finish line to give victory to one half of the team over the other.

"They went out, they worked, and they had fun, and that's important. Hopefully, it carries over," said Kilrea, whose team will try to get back on track tonight with a home game against the Oshawa Generals at 7:30 -- the opener of a home-and-home series that concludes Sunday night in Oshawa.

Ottawa will try to extend an undefeated streak at home to seven games with a juggled lineup.

Bryan Bickell, the four-year 67's veteran and Chicago second-rounder, moves up to the top line to occupy the spot formerly held by Tsimikalis.

That means Bickell will play at centre with Czech imports Jakub Petruzalek and Lukas Kaspar, although Petruzalek might also get some looks in the middle.

"Killer looks up to me, I guess," said Bickell who, along with Todd, was in the coach's doghouse a few weekends ago for, according to Kilrea, breaking an unspecified team rule. "All of a sudden, he just put me on the line."

Kilrea said Bickell will likely get more scoring chances playing with the Czechs.

"He's strong, and maybe he needs to see the puck more than he has been getting," said Kilrea. "You know that (the Czechs) are going to get all kinds of opportunities, so if he gets involved, it may be a better game for him and that might produce a better game for us."

Tsimikalis, also a four-year 67's vet, had six goals and 18 points before departing Saturday's game in Owen Sound after Kilrea had moved him to the third line.

He met in Ottawa with Kilrea on Wednesday to discuss the situation, but later returned home to Aurora.

WANTS TRADE

Last night, Tsimikalis said he continued to seek a trade.

"Losing Pete is a big upset," said Bickell. "But we've got to look past it and just work hard, and hopefully the wins will come our way."

Danny Battochio starts in net for Ottawa tonight, his second straight start since recovering from a separated shoulder suffered last month in Saginaw.


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