BARRIE -- Life in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs has been good to Danny Battochio -- so far. The Ottawa 67's top goalie made a good impression in his first OHL playoff game Thursday night, during a 5-4 win over the Barrie Colts in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference quarter-final. He stopped 41 shots and was the main reason Ottawa escaped with a win after being outshot by a 2-to-1 margin.
"I thought he played extremely well, especially in the first and third," said 67's coach Brian Kilrea. "I thought they were the periods they dominated pretty good, and he made some fantastic saves to preserve the one-goal (lead)."
Battochio would have been with the 67's during last season's playoffs, but his year was cut short when he suffered a seizure at home in Sudbury during the Christmas break. He underwent delicate surgery behind an eye socket to repair a defective vein, which caused the seizure.
Compared to that experience, competing in a playoff hockey game must seem pretty mundane.
But Battochio, who'll start Game 2 tonight at the Barrie Molson Centre (7:30 p.m., Rogers 22), said he was slightly nervous while walking from the team's bus to the dressing room before the opening game.
"Then after awhile, I just settled myself down," he said. "It's just another hockey game. I've played hockey my whole life, so why change anything now? I didn't bother thinking it was the playoffs."
Ottawa goalie coach Tom Dempsey said Battochio looked a bit jittery at the start.
"But once he made a couple of saves, he was right in there. And he'll get better the rest of the way."
Battochio allowed just one bad goal -- a shot from a sharp angle by Travis Fuller that got through the short side. "He just got lucky and it squeaked by", said Battochio. "He put a good shot through. My body was not square. I made the error and they got it off me.
"Playoffs are like that. Whoever makes the errors is going to lose. The more errors you make, the less chance you have of winning."
The 67's have two other goalies on their roster -- Anthony Guadagnolo and Matthew Spezza -- but neither has any OHL playoff experience.
"We were talking about that before the playoffs began, and that was kind of scary," said Dempsey. "But now we have a guy who has 60 minutes in the books and gave us a real solid effort. He's a playoff veteran now, as far as I'm concerned."
Kilrea offered to give his players yesterday off, but the team voted to return to Barrie from their hotel near Pearson Airport in Toronto for a practice.
Ottawa captain Will Colbert said the vote was "pretty unanimous."
"We thought having a day off on Good Friday, there wouldn't be much to do. It's a way for us to keep everybody together."
Kilrea was impressed by their call.
"It's great. The guys who didn't get a lot of action on Thursday got to skate, and some of the guys who were tired were able to get out there and stay loose."