Sniper's hit rocks the Kaspar

DON BRENNAN, --Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:51 AM ET

Lukas Kaspar finally made his mark in the 67's opening round playoff series with the Barrie Colts last night -- and in unlikely fashion, at that. The Czech did it with a check.

Kaspar, a very skilled first-round pick of the San Jose Sharks who has had difficulty adapting to the North American style, strengthened his grasp of what's what over here midway through the third period and just inside the Ottawa blue line.

That's when and where he absolutely crushed Bryan Little with a clean shoulder/upper arm hit that left the Colts' leading scorer flat on the ice and put him out of the game, perhaps the season.

Kaspar in fact did produce a better overall performance and picked up his first point (an assist) of the series. But it was that one physical moment that could turn out to be the sealing of Barrie's fate.

Too bad for the knuckleheads in the crowd who spoiled it when they continued to chant "Keep Your Head Up" while Little lay motionless.

NEWS AND VIEWS: As if it isn't already hard enough to stay away from Rideau Carleton Raceway --what with the bountiful buffet and horse betting -- Cheapseats has learned the casino side will undergo major expansion and become a full service gambling emporium as early as this summer. That means roulette, cards and dice to go along with the slot machines, which we never did like feeding. Guess who's about to pick up some extra pocket money? .... If Luke Richardson wants to practise with the Renegades, Joe Paopao should lay out the red carpet. Figure it out: Ownership is desperately searching for a local partner, and Richardson, who has made millions on top of millions in 17 NHL seasons, is a big Renegades fan who is on his way back to Ottawa this summer. For buying shares in the team when nobody else from this city will, they should give him a football helmet, shoulder pads and a spot on the active roster, if that's what he so desires. Who knows? He may wind up helping them on and off the field? ... Defencemen Danny McGillis and Brad Staubitz have apparently become friends, likely from Brian Kilrea allowing local NHL players to skate with his team during the lockout. McGillis, an unsigned free agent who most recently played with the Boston Bruins, reportedly called Staubitz, a 67's blue-line rock, with some encouraging words before last night's game. Wonder if they included "keep firing at the net?" Two Staubitz shots wound up deflected behind Dan LaCosta in Game 3, while Game 4 saw a Staubitz offering redirected home by Brad Bonello and another make it past the goal line all on its own -- with all four tee off spots being the right point.

BETWEEN PERIODS: There was a lineup out the door first thing yesterday morning as the last remaining singles for last night's game were snapped up early. Believe it or not, the sellout was the first for a playoff game in Jeff Hunt's seven years as owner of the 67's. And what's this we hear about scalpers getting $100 a pair for the game? .... Local entrepreneur Alex Lawrence this week launched a website (http://isurvivedthehockeylockout.com) that allows fans to vent their frustration over the NHL shutdown. Merchandise is available on-line and will soon be in stores. Only in Canada, eh ... Remember, in Kilrea's mid-season trade of Peter Tsimikalis for Chris Hulit, he was also able to convince the Oshawa Generals to throw in what turns out to be the first-overall pick in this spring's European draft? People do time for pulling stuff like that off on the streets.

GOING, GOING AND GONE: Prior to last night's game, Bonello told us to "get the facts straight" next time we pound on the keyboard. If he was irritated by something that was written in this space a couple of days ago, you're welcome, Ottawa. Bonello went on to score a goal and an assist while playing his best game of the series ... Along with constructing a pair of rotisserie league dynasties this weekend, some of us are eagerly anticipating a couple of very nice TV doubleheaders -- Illinois-Louisville and North Carolina-Michigan State tonight before it gets even better with the 67's-Colts and Red Sox-Yankees tomorrow night. Take control of the controllers now, guys.


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