67's have erased all doubts

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

The doubt is gone. The doubt that sets in when a team is losing, when things aren't going its way.

And now, finally, the 67's believe in themselves, unthinkable a few months ago when they were struggling just to reach the playoffs.

The players are starting to talk about being satisfied with nothing less than winning an OHL title.

And, who knows, maybe even the Memorial Cup after beating Barrie in six games, Sudbury in six, and then Peterborough in four straight to win the Eastern Conference championship.

The players were back on the ice yesterday for practice, less than 24 hours after rookie Jamie McGinn scored the winner 11 minutes into overtime to clinch the series sweep over the Petes.

McGinn's teammates mobbed him after the goal, creating a scene that nobody would have predicted for this team, described by some of the players as a group of castoffs that nobody wanted.

TURNING POINT IN KINGSTON

After Wednesday's win, coach Brian Kilrea spoke of a turning point on March 8 when the team beat the Frontenacs in Kingston.

"It took a while for this team to grow up," said Kilrea. "We put some pieces together, and luckily they worked. But at the time, we weren't a dominating club.

"We realized that maybe we have a team here, and then, all of a sudden, some fellows started playing better."

It was a tough year for most of Ottawa's veterans, with the defections of winger Peter Tsimikalis and defenceman Kyle Wharton, both of whom requested trades.

"We've been through a lot this year, more than any team I've ever been on before," said 67's captain Will Colbert.

"Guys that we were really close with wanted to move on, and it was tough. But we got great players and got over that."

Kilrea managed to get sniper Chris Hulit for Tsimikalis.

In January, in two separate deals, he moved Wharton, Brody Todd and Tyson Aitcheson to the Soo for Brad Staubitz, Jamie VanderVeeken and David Jarram.

It took a while for the team to mesh, but it has come together for the playoff run.

QUIET CRITICS

"We're just real excited, because it was kind of up and down this year," said Colbert. "To put it all together, we've made a lot of people quiet."

The 67's will gather tonight and watch the fifth game of the Western Conference final between London and Kitchener on TV. The Knights lead 3-1 and could clinch the Western title with a win.

TV TIME: Rogers Television 22 will broadcast the remainder of the West final, including tonight's game (7:30) in London. If the Knights win and clinch the series, the 67's will get a berth in the Memorial Cup.

A GOOD REID: Ottawa D Elgin Reid is on the mend and can't wait to get back on the ice. "I'll be ready for the next round. I can't watch any more," the second-year 67's blueliner said after yesterday's practice. He suffered a hyper-extended knee and a sprained ankle in the fourth game of the series against Sudbury.

A LONG REST?: If London wins the West, the OHL final might not start until next Friday because the John Labatt Centre, home of the Knights, is booked for a Green Day concert on Wednesday and a performance of Fiddler on the Roof on Thursday. If the final doesn't start until Friday, Ottawa would get nine days rest.


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