Quick Hits with Mancari

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

Q.H.: How realistic are the 67's hopes of winning the conference and, presuming Memorial Cup host London Knights are going to win in the west, going to the national championship tournament this spring? M.M.: It's very realistic for our team to set the goal of winning our conference. Everyone is really, really close on our side ... the first-place team has 62 points and we have 55. London winning (the west) is definitely in the back of our minds, but anything is possible. We've just got to worry about our side and take that first.

Q.H.: The NHL owners-players stalemate could very well force the league to call in replacement players next season? Do juniors look at that possibility as a boost to their hopes of playing in the NHL sooner?

M.M.: I really don't know what to think right now. Is there going to be an NHL next season? Who knows. Obviously, we all want to see one. I don't know if there will be replacement players. I can honestly see a league like the W.H.A. starting up, a whole new league starting. And I can see a lot of guys going to Europe. And a lot of young guys here are going to have a hard time cracking an American Hockey League team or an East Coast League team because so many good players are going to be playing there. You kind of think of the positives, but also the negatives. We as hockey players just hope it's settled and there will be a season next year.

Q.H.: Would you ever be a replacement player?

M.M.: I don't know. Obviously, it's a goal of mine to play in the NHL. Being a replacement player is definitely something I'd consider.

Q.H.: Who is the OHL's biggest pain in the butt?

M.M.: The biggest agitator? It was (67's teammate) Brad Bonello, when I played against him last year. But this year, for me, it's definitely been Nathan McIver from St. Mikes.

Q.H.: What's the funniest line you've heard from Brian Kilrea?

M.M.: A few of us were juggling a ball before a game, and he told us to stop playing sponge-bop-bop or something like that.

Q.H.: Who is the biggest eater on your team?

M.M.: (Trainer) Brian Patafie. We go out for team meals, and we get a plate or two, but Pataf will somehow manage to get three or four.

Q.H.: What's the biggest weakness in your game?

M.M.: Every game I've got to go out and finish my hits. I have games where I go out and hit everything in sight, and I'll be scoring goals. And there are games I'll get a lucky bounce and score a goal. But for me to be a dominant player, and for me to excel and help the team, I've got to be more consistent with finishing my checks.

Q.H.: How do you respond to accusations you're an underachiever?

M.M.: It doesn't really bother me. I just go out and play my game, and obviously everyone is going to have their opinion. Being thought of like that, yeah, in a sense it hurts. But at the same time, I look at where I am this year, as a player, and how my stats were ... as opposed to last year playing with Corey Locke, who was the top goal scorer. This year, my goals are higher than they were last year, but I'm also being more of a complete player. I'm killing penalties, which I didn't do last year. I'm hitting more. I'm being more of a physical presence. And I'm also doing other things. On the bench, I'm talking a lot more this year. My roles have changed.

Q.H.: What's your biggest strength?

M.M.: Going out and giving it my all pretty much every night. I hate to lose. Losing is something I honestly can not stand. I'm here to play hockey, but I'm here to win. If you're not winning, you're not having fun.

Q.H.: What's the biggest benefit that comes with being a 67 in this town?

M.M.: Just the respect this team and organization has. Obviously, with Brian Kilrea being here, and being the legend that he is, we get a lot of respect. And being here for four years, the fans have been unbelievable. They support this team through thick and thin, and going somewhere and having a fan notice you is an absolute honour. It's a great feeling.

The Facts

- Age: 19

- Height: 6-foot-3

- Weight: 225 lbs.

- NHL team: Buffalo, seventh round, 207th overall (2004)

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


Videos

Photos