Appreciative 67's in flight

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

PETERBOROUGH -- If Jeff Hunt is going to do whatever he can to ensure that his Ottawa 67's are a happy and successful junior hockey team, they are more than willing to return the sentiment.

Rather than have his players sit through a three-hour bus ride, Hunt, the 67's owner, had his club flown to Peterborough yesterday afternoon. Partly as a result, the 67's emerged last night from the Memorial Centre here with a 3-2 overtime victory against the Petes in the opening game of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference final.

"We're really grateful for what he does for us," said overage forward Jeremy Akeson, who scored the winner at 2:16 of overtime before a packed house of 3,843. "It's such a better feeling to have a 30-minute flight. You get off the plane, come right to the rink and you're ready to go."

Ottawa lost each of its four visits to Peterborough during the regular season, and the Petes were 6-0 on home ice in the playoffs.

But thanks to a number of factors -- the short travel time, the heads-up performance of Czech forward Lukas Kaspar and some sharp goaltending by Danny Battochio -- the 67's can take a 2-0 series lead tomorrow night back in Ottawa, where they are 6-0 in the playoffs.

Kaspar was a first-round pick by the San Jose Sharks last year and last night demonstrated the skills that made him such a high choice. On the winning goal, he passed the puck out front while fending off Petes defenceman Bryan Young.

Akeson, who said he had never scored an overtime goal at any level, found the puck and beat goalie Jeff MacDougald with a quick shot.

Earlier, on Ottawa's first goal, Kaspar sent a nifty backhand pass between his legs to set up countryman Jakub Petruzalek.

"(Kaspar's) play has picked up an awful lot the last couple of months," 67's coach Brian Kilrea said. "The defenceman took him well (on the play that led to the winner), but he still had enough strength to get the puck out.

"I thought we had some guys who came to play. (We) proved we could win in Peterborough."

Chris Hulit also scored for the 67's, who got 26 saves from Battochio.

Trevor Hendrikx and Daniel Ryder replied for the Petes. MacDougald stopped 29 shots.

Though they are just one game into the series, both clubs showed they are ready for a long, nasty battle. There were shenanigans after many whistles, keeping referee Brad Beer on his toes.

"When you keep going to overtime, eventually it will not go your way," said Petes coach Dick Todd, whose team has played in overtime in each of its past four home games.

"I thought maybe we were a little nervous. I don't think we were on top of our game."


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