If the Sudbury Wolves' series-extending, four-goal victory at home Friday was in any way a rally around their suspended goon, Kyle Musselman, then how fitting was it for Mark Mancari to counter with a hat trick in Ottawa's clincher yesterday?
Before the 67's eliminating, 7-4 win at the Civic Centre, Musselman apologized to Mancari for the sucker punch that black-marked this Eastern Conference semi-final. It was the first time the two had spoken since the Game 3 incident that resulted in an OHL ban for the Sudbury 19-year-old.
"He came to the room and said he hoped I was all right, that he was glad to see me playing," Mancari told Cheapseats following his three-goal -- all on breakaways -- one-assist performance. "I said to him I didn't expect the suspension to be that long. I mean, I knew he'd be suspended and it's not my job to say how long it should be ... but life is a pretty long time, for me."
As it should be for any teenager.
Kids, don't punch anybody from behind. You could really hurt them -- or they could come back to hurt you.
STARTS AND STOPS: Sit up and take note, Ottawa. The 67's are four wins from getting by a tough but beatable opponent and -- when London knocks off Kitchener in five for the Western Conference title -- a berth in the Canadian Hockey League's final four. This is a good story in a city that's missing its Senators, not to mention a very special run for those involved. "I've never been past the first round," said the 67's own muscleman, overage defenceman Brad Staubitz. "I am loving this." ... Jeff Hunt couldn't have asked for a better birthday present than the one he received yesterday, on his 41st. Since he became owner of the 67's, the team has now made it to the conference final four times in seven seasons. "This was the best," he said of yesterday's victory, when asked about the B-day gifts he received. "Oh, no, wait. Those oversized balloon trunks I got from my kids are pretty flattering." ... W Jeremy Akeson flexed his muscle on the Beech (Wolves G Kevin Beech) while scoring the 67's first -- with their first shot on goal -- at 4:36 of the first. Akeson shoved the puck and the 'tender into the net after taking over for Lukas Kaspar, who had made some pretty nifty moves in partially splitting the Sudbury defence. "I didn't know where the puck was," said Akeson. "I knew it hit his pad, so I just tried to push him in. I just wanted to go to the net and see what would happen."
BETWEEN PERIODS: A 67's playoff ticket: $15. Parking at the Civic Centre: $5. A digestible hotdog: $2. Having a pigeon crap on your head: Priceless. It's the city's house, and it's a a problem the city should have found a way to fix long ago ... Kaspar had a great first period, with a goal and an assist, then picked up another apple on Chris Hulit's power-play goal at 8:29 of the second period. It wasn't your average helper, either. The Czech's blistering slap shot from the top of the right-wing faceoff circle caught Sudbury's second G Patrick Ehelechner right in a face mask that would later need repairs. Ehelechner lay stunned while Hulit flipped the puck in the net ... The sidebar in a 67's-Petes conference final: Pesky Ottawa C Brad Bonello gets a chance to haunt his old team. "I wasn't bitter about being traded as much as I was about how long it took," said Bonello, who was dealt to the 67's by Peterborough on Oct. 22. "I had an agreement with the GM (Jeff Twohey), that if I was going to get traded he would do it before training camp, so I would have a fresh start. But as it turned out, I missed camp and 10 games. It'd be nice (to stick it to the Petes), but I've got to put the personal thing aside. I want my team to do well and a chance to play in the Memorial Cup."
CHANGING LINES: To celebrate the first of his two, second-period breakaway goals, Mancari threw himself into the end boards glass where a TV cameraman was located. That's a whole lotta scary (6-foot-3, 225 lbs.) barging into your living room, if the red light on top of the camera was glowing like the one behind the net ... On Mancari's third, it looked like he was going to give it the old Owen Nolan finger point before he shot, but instead he deked for the third time. Civic Centre fans responded by tossing a grand total of seven caps on the ice. Weak ... "Ask him how wide open his man was in our end on their goal," Brian Kilrea said to reporters as Mancari was surrounded by a post-game media scrum. "He wasn't," Mancari shot back at his coach ... After the hype that comes with consideration as the next-best thing to Sidney Crosby, didn't you expect more from Wolves W Benoit Pouliot than two goals in a six-game series? ... Another disappointment -- only one fight in the entire Eastern Conference semi-final between Staubitz and Zack Stortini. The 67's blueliner was given the decision on most cards, but another bout was really needed between the two to truly determine the OHL heavyweight champ for 2005-06.