No wonder the 67's made a fuss and appealed the recent four-game suspension to winger Mark Mancari. The veteran returned to the lineup for last night's important game against the Barrie Colts and had a big impact.
"Thank goodness he's back, because he meant an awful lot," said 67's coach Brian Kilrea.
Mancari's three goals and assist paced his team to a 6-3 victory over the Colts last night at the Civic Centre.
POWER PLAY COMES ALIVE
Ottawa got four goals on the power play.
The win broke a three-game losing skid and moved the 67's ahead in the tight OHL Eastern Conference standings.
With seven games left in the regular season, the 67's want to finish no lower than fourth in the conference to gain home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
The Colts hold that fourth-place standing, which made last night's win key because it brought the 67's to within three points of Barrie.
"The goal for us right now is just to go out every game and make it a playoff game," said Mancari who equalled a personal OHL-season high of 29 goals.
"We know that we're not in the playoffs yet, and we've got to work extra hard to get a good spot. We know we want to come in the top four.
"Home-ice advantage come playoff time is pretty important and we know that we're a good home team and that could really help us out in the playoffs," he said.
Mancari started the game well for the 67's, getting the team's first goal on the power play three minutes in.
He also scored in the second on a wrist shot that beat Barrie goalie Dan LaCosta on the short side over the glove, and Mancari completed the hat trick in the final minute of the period with another power-play goal.
"I felt I owed it to my team to come out (last night) and work extra hard and try to contribute more offensively and be a more physical player," said Mancari, who missed four games after being suspended for being the third man involved in a fight two weeks ago against Peterborough.
"The guys were playing well. They found me, and I was just lucky enough to put the puck in the net."
Mancari dedicated his effort to his ailing grandmother, Francesca Mancari, who lives in London, Ont.
He capped the game with a fight against Barrie's Jordan Shine in the final minutes.
The Colts trailed 6-1 after two but made the final period interesting, getting goals from Chad Robinson and Scott Hotham early in the third.
But Danny Battochio, who made 40 saves, played well the rest of the way and got his 19th win of the season.
His best save came with 6:30 left in the third, robbing Travis Fuller with a blocker stop from a shot right in front.
The 67's also got goals from Jakub Petruzalek, Brad Bonello and Chris Hulit.
IN THE CREASE: Former 67's star Bobby Smith attended last night's game ... Attendance was 9,862, a sell out ... Tomorrow's game against Kitchener begins at 7 p.m., not at 2 as originally scheduled. The time switch was made so Rogers Sportsnet can broadcast the game during prime time.