67's Cup is finally full

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:11 PM ET

With 12 minutes to go in the game, the Ottawa 67's had seen enough.

They had gathered at Local Heroes on Bank St. to watch last night's deciding game between the London Knights and the Kitchener Rangers.

Arranged along a long table in front of the big screen, they started packing up with the Knights up 4-0 in what turned out to be their 6-0 clinching win, taking the Western Conference final 4-1.

"It would have been a bit better if (the Rangers) had taken them to a sixth game or even a seventh," said 67's forward Brad Bonello, sitting at the head of the table by winger Mark Mancari. "It looks like London came to play and Kitchener didn't."

So now it's bring on the Knights.

The 67's were handed their fifth trip to the Memorial Cup last night as a result of the Knights win.

The 67's will face the Knights in the OHL final, starting Friday night in London, with Game 2 set for the afternoon of Sunday, May 8. Games 3 and 4 will be here Tuesday May 10 and Thursday, May 12. If necessary, Game 5 will be in London, Saturday, May 14; Game 6 here May 16 and Game 7 in London, May 17.

Since the Knights are hosting the Memorial Cup, both clubs are guaranteed spots in the four-team event.

"They're dominating," said 67's coach/GM Brian Kilrea of the Knights after watching the game last night. "They play both ends of the rink and they just work. When you have a lot of talent, it doesn't hurt to work."

The 67's lost both their games to the Knights this season, 5-3 in London Nov. 19 and 5-0 at home Jan. 23, but the 67's are now a much different club than the one that faced London earlier this season.

"We made some trades and now we're basically all on the same page compared to when we played them," said Bonello. "We've played some great hockey in the last month of the regular season and the playoffs so far.

"We'll be a different team playing London this time."

Though both clubs are guaranteed spots in the Memorial Cup, Bonello said that won't keep the 67's from letting it all hang out in the OHL final.

"We feel like we can accomplish something by winning the OHL final and get into the Memorial Cup the way you're supposed to," said Bonello. "We don't want to lose. We don't want to be embarrassed. We want to compete to the best of our ability. Everybody on this team still wants to win.

"I'd like to go in as a champion," said Kilrea. "I know they're favoured and the odds are against us, but if you lose sight of winning or lose sight of championships, then you've lost sight of the game."

The 67's schedule at the Memorial Cup:

- Sunday, May 22, vs. the Western Hockey League champion (4 p.m.).

- Tuesday, May 24, vs. the Quebec Junior Hockey League champion (7 p.m.).

- Thursday, May 26, vs. London (7 p.m.).

A tie-breaking game (if necessary) is set for Friday (4 p.m.) with the semi-final on the Saturday ( 7 p.m.) and the final on Sunday, May 28 (4:30 p.m.).

REID GOOD TO GO: The 67's can count on having defenceman Elgin Reid back for the OHL final. Reid, out since suffering a high-ankle sprain in the second-round series against the Sudbury Wolves, skated again yesterday and pronounced himself ready to play. "Anybody who knows me would tell you they were surprised I lasted (on the sidelines) as long as I did and didn't try to come back," he said. "This is my favourite time of year. It was a little bittersweet not being able to play, but (his teammates) have given me a chance to keep playing." Reid said he likely suffered either torn or stretched ligaments and it's not 100%, but that it wouldn't keep him out any longer. Kilrea said he will welcome Reid's contributions both on and off the ice. "He makes us better. One thing with Elgin Reid, he's fierce. He's determined to win. He's a spokesman in the room and on the bench. He helps in a lot of ways besides being talented. It's good to have him around."

HEAR AND THERE: The 67's skated for half an hour at the Civic Centre yesterday afternoon and then Kilrea dismissed the players. The majority of them still lingered on the ice, taking shots on third goaltender Matthew Spezza, faux fighting or gathering in little groups to talk. The 67's will practise this morning and will be given the day off by Kilrea tomorrow ... Tickets for the 67's three potential home games in the OHL final, through Ticketmaster (755-1166, ticketmaster.ca) or the 67's store (1015 Bank St.) during the week. Prices are $18 for adults, $17 for students and seniors $10 for children.

chris.stevenson@ott.sunpub.com


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