Loss won't upset Ouzas

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

One of the last places Michael Ouzas figured he would find himself this season was the 2005 Ontario Hockey League all-star game but that's where he popped up on Groundhog Day, tending goal for the Eastern Conference.

If there ever is a player who earned an all-star selection, it's Ouzas. He was acquired by the Mississauga IceDogs last October from the St. Michael's Majors for a draft pick, primarily to back up David Shantz. But Ouzas gradually stole the starting role from Shantz, and finds himself near the top of most of the league's goaltending categories.

Ouzas allowed four goals on 18 shots last night before 3,100 at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre here in Owen Sound as the West romped to a 9-4 win.

"I was saying to the boys I've never let in four goals in a game and not been mad about it, other than this," Ouzas, 19, said with a smile. "Guys will make that extra little dangle, but I tried the best I could and I had a good time."

A Hamilton native, Ouzas is 16-6-7 with three shutouts, a 2.11 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage.

Ouzas' road to the all-star game had some weird turns. He spent the 2001-02 season playing Junior A in Finland, played in eight games for the Barrie Colts two years ago and then appeared in 19 matches for St. Mike's last season.

"I was the youngest player in the (Finnish Jr. A) league, but I stuck through and made a lot of friends," Ouzas said. "It made me mentally tougher and developmentally it helped."

In a match that followed the usual all-star template of no body-checking and no defence, five of the eight London Knights who participated -- Rob Schremp, with two goals, Corey Perry (named the West MVP), Dylan Hunter, Danny Syvret and David Bolland -- scored for the West. Jeff Carter of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Ryan Callahan of the Guelph Storm and Geoff Platt of the Erie Otters also scored for the West. Wojtek Wolski of the Brampton Battalion, Jamie Tardif of the Peterborough Petes and two Barrie Colts -- Bryan Little and Rob Hisey (named the East MVP) -- scored for the East.

Two players could not take part because of injury. Kitchener Rangers centre Michael Richards, who suffered a groin injury last week, was on crutches and said he hopes to be back in March; Owen Sound Attack forward Bobby Ryan said he should be in the lineup tomorrow versus the Sarnia Sting after suffering a shoulder injury two weeks ago.

Before the game, OHL commissioner David Branch announced that the late Bert Templeton has posthumously been honoured with the Bill Long Award for Distinguished Service. Templeton, who died on Dec. 5, 2003, after a battle with cancer, is the second winningest coach in OHL history with 907 wins. Templeton's wife Sandi accepted the award.


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