While the Ottawa 67's bus was purring at the curb outside the Civic Centre yesterday for the trip to Sudbury, 67's coach/GM Brian Kilrea was growling.
The fumes from an idling Kilrea can be more toxic than a diesel engine. Kilrea said his club is going to have to be a lot more disciplined in their Eastern Conference semi-final against the Wolves (Game 1 tonight, 7:30 p.m., Team 1200) than they were in their opening-round win over the Barrie Colts.
"You can only tell them so many times," said Kilrea.
"Hopefully, it'll sink in."
The 67's dodged a bunch of bullets against Barrie in their 4-2 series win, thanks in large part to the outstanding play of Ottawa goaltender Danny Battochio.
The fifth-seeded Wolves and St. Isidore's Benoit Pouliot, their leading playoff scorer, ousted the No. 4-seeded Brampton Battalion 4-2. They likely won't let the 67's off the hook so easily. The series against the Wolves is going to be more physical than the set against the Colts, so discipline might be even more important.
Not that the 67's will be shy about meeting whatever physical challenges might be put in front of them by the Wolves.
'ANSWER THE BELL'
"We're going to have to step up and answer the bell. We're not going to go out looking for fights, but nobody on this team is going to let their teammates or themselves get pushed around," said defenceman Brad Staubitz, the 67's impressive physical presence.
"A lot of the guys on this team can hold their own in this league. There's no doubt it's going to be a tough battle."
With the first, third and fourth-seeds out in the first round (not that there was that much of a spread between the playoff clubs), the path to the Eastern Conference title is no worse than an even-money trip now.
If the powerful London Knights, hosts of the Memorial Cup, emerge from the West, the Eastern Conference title is also a ticket to the national championship.
"We're excited. It's wide open," said 67's captain Will Colbert. "Three out of the four series in the first round were upsets on the Eastern side. Anything can happen."
Colbert said the club will depend on some scouting reports from Staubitz and Jamie VanderVeeken, who both saw more of the Wolves before being traded to Ottawa. The 67's had played their two games against Sudbury by Oct. 1 with each team winning on home ice.
Game 2 is Saturday in Sudbury before the series shifts back to Ottawa for games Monday and Wednesday (7 p.m., Ticketmaster.ca, 755-1166 or at the 67's store, 1015 Bank St.).