Nice guy, that Bryan Bickell.
Less than a week after taking a few shots at the city of Peterborough, the Ottawa 67's forward last night played a large role in putting one of the probable final nails in the Petes' season.
Bickell scored two goals as the 67's registered a 4-3 victory in Game 3 of the Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference final before a crowd of 3,879 at the Peterborough Memorial Centre. If Ottawa wins Game 4 of the best-of-seven tomorrow night at home, it will advance to the OHL final for the second time in three years.
Bickell, from Orono, a 25-minute drive down Highway 115 from Peterborough, was asked afterward about being Public Enemy No. 1 in the general area. Last week, he said he did not like the city and that it was not a great town.
"The fans here don't like me much," said Bickell, who was named first star. "With them yelling at me, it pumps me up. (The Petes) are a hard team to play in their barn."
Which prompted coach Brian Kilrea, who was sitting beside Bickell during a post-game media conference, to say: "And it's a good city, right? Great city. Tell them it's a great city, and you're proud you live near it."
Bickell: "Oh, yeah, for sure, my mom (Anne) works here." Kilrea: "There, see?"
But Kilrea, the 70-year-old OHL coaching legend, was not as jovial during the game, especially the last 10 minutes. He turned a shade of Petes maroon as the home side scored three goals in a span of four minutes, 15 seconds, starting at 10:39 when Trevor Hendrikx scored. Rookie Jordan Staal added two more on Danny Battochio, but the rally fell short.
Julian Talbot and Lukas Kaspar also scored for Ottawa.
Bickell's second goal came not long after the 67's killed off a four-minute penalty. During the penalty, referee Carman Cox blew his whistle a split-second before Jamie Tardif jammed the puck into the net for what would have been the tying goal. Petes coach Dick Todd later took issue with the waved-off goal, but knows it doesn't change the fact his team is in a big hole.
"We can't belittle the fact they have played well," said Todd, who stressed he was not trying to be harsh on Cox.
"We have to play smarter. It will be critical we get fair refereeing in the ensuing games in Ottawa. With the crowd behind their team, that won't be easy. (But) if we can keep our composure and discipline, it can be done."