Kilrea has 67's taking notice

Ottawa 67's goalie Danny Battochio dives for a puck during practice Monday, May 16, 2005 at the...

Ottawa 67's goalie Danny Battochio dives for a puck during practice Monday, May 16, 2005 at the Civic Centre. (Ottawa Sun/Errol McGihon)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Yesterday's practice for the 67's started off light enough.

Coach Brian Kilrea gathered the group around centre ice and asked for a salute to Lukas Kaspar and Jakub Petruzalek, the team's Czech imports whose national team beat Canada for the world hockey title on Sunday.

Petruzalek celebrated by taping the words "Czech Team" on the bottom of his practice jersey, rubbing salt into the wounds of his Canuck mates.

But then Kilrea blew the whistle, the barking began, and it was all business from there -- an arduous skating session in preparation for the Memorial Cup in London.

No daydreaming allowed. Just work.

"We had some guys who were going to try and float as if they can turn it off and on, but there's no switch that turns it off and on," said Kilrea. "Either you come to practice, or you don't, and I tried to get that message across."

It got through.

"Some of the guys' legs weren't into it, but Killer ran it pretty tough (yesterday)," said 67's centre Brad Bonello.

"He wants us to get back in the mode. He doesn't want us to get lackadaisical and he wants us to work hard and still remember that we still have a pretty big task ahead."

That task being an improbable --but attainable -- junior hockey championship in a tournament where Ottawa ranks last among the four teams competing for the Memorial Cup title.

The tournament begins on Saturday with the host Knights, who beat the 67's in five games to capture the franchise's first OHL championship, facing Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic, the QMJHL champs.

The 67's open on Sunday against the Kelowna Rockets, the WHL and defending Memorial Cup champions.

Kilrea, who gave the team Sunday off, said he worked the players hard yesterday because he didn't like the way his team played during the last two games of the series against London.

He said the 67's didn't hustle enough, nor did they finish their checks.

"We have to get back to what got us here -- and that's finishing the checks and working hard," said Kilrea. "Maybe they'll realize that if they thought they were going to go and have a walk in the park, maybe they'll rethink it."

The coach said the players will have tough practices every day until the team leaves for London on Thursday.

MCGINN BACK AT PRACTICE

"They'll work hard again (today), and if they don't, they'll hear from me," said Kilrea.

"I figure that we've got some time to work hard because the games are going to be hard and everybody's got to get adjusted to them."

Rookie left winger Jamie McGinn returned to the ice yesterday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury during the second game of the series against London.

McGinn said he felt good and should be ready to go on Sunday vs. the Rockets.

"It's tough to see the team out there without you on the ice," said McGinn, who scored the overtime winner that clinched a series sweep of Peterborough for the Eastern Conference championship.

"I wanted to get out there, but I needed my rest just to get 100% again."

Kilrea said the 67's are a better team with McGinn in the mix.

"We missed him. We've got some left wingers, but he's playing on our No. 1 line, and he's not playing there because he's 16 years old. He's playing there because he earned it."


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