67's go nighty-Knight

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

LONDON -- Knights 6, 67's 2, London wins series 4-1

While the rest of the 67's couldn't watch, Will Colbert couldn't help himself.

The 67's captain left his team's dressing room and stood in the walkway to watch the London Knights hoisting the J. Ross Robertson Cup.

The Knights were celebrating the first OHL championship in the franchise's 39-year history.

And for Colbert, a three-year 67's veteran, it was a tough scene to take in, but one he needed to witness.

"I thought we had a chance in this one," he said. "I don't know what I'm doing. I guess I'm just taking it all in."

The 67's amazing playoff run came to a crashing end last night at the John Labatt Centre in a 6-2 loss to the Knights, as London captured the best-of-seven series in five games.

UNDERDOG ROLE

Ottawa entered the playoffs ranked sixth in the Eastern Conference, but managed to upset Barrie in the first round, Sudbury in the second round and then Peterborough in a shocking four-game sweep to win the conference final.

That set up a showdown in the OHL final against the heavily favoured Knights, the top-rated team in junior hockey.

The 67's seemed to have momentum in the final after scoring a shocking 6-3 win in London last Sunday, handing the Knights just their second home loss of the season, and evening the series 1-1.

But Ottawa did little with the momentum, losing the next two games in the friendly confines of the Civic Centre, where the 67's hadn't lost in the playoffs, before finally bowing out last night.

"The last three games, we didn't play as well as we could have," said Colbert.

"I don't think we put it all out on the line. That's what makes it so disappointing. We don't have anyone to blame but ourselves on that, but I'm proud of what we've done."

Ottawa coach Brian Kilrea, a man who never takes losing lightly, grumbled about how his team lost its jam after winning its only game of the series one week ago, when things looked promising.

"I'm proud of what they've done, but just not proud of the way we played in the last three games. We just didn't get everyone going," said the coach.

"At one time, we had four lines going, but on some nights, it was only one or two. You're not going to beat a team unless everyone comes ready and better prepared to play."

HAVE ANOTHER CHANCE

On most occasions, last night's loss would mark the end for Ottawa, but the 67's have another life and will represent the OHL at the Memorial Cup, which begins here next Saturday when the Knights host Sidney Crosby and QMJHL-champion Rimouski in the opening game.

Ottawa plays the WHL-champion Kelowna Rockets next Sunday.

"We've got to find some guys and get them to play when the tournament starts the way they did before, not the way they played now," said Kilrea.

Ottawa gave the Knights a bit of a scare last night, but not for long.

Bryan Bickell scored the opening goal in the second minute of the game, fluttering a wrist shot from above the left faceoff circle past London goalie Gerald Coleman.

But the Knights came back to take the lead before the end of the period on goals by Josh Beaulieu and former 67's defenceman Bryan Rodney.

David Bolland gave the Knights a three-goal cushion later in the second.

67's winger Mark Mancari scored early in the third to make it a two-goal game, but Danny Fritsche and Rob Schremp, who had an outstanding game, scored later to seal it for the Knights.

With two minutes remaining, the crowd in the House of Green rose to its feet and celebrated the Knights with a thundering ovation.

And at the final buzzer, the Knights mobbed Coleman.

"The atmosphere is awesome," said London defenceman and Ottawa native Marc Methot, who grew up in the Mooney's Bay are. "We've been waiting so long for this."

Knights winger Corey Perry was named MVP of the playoffs.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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