67's ask: Why not us?

Ottawa 67's forward Jeremy Akeson kicks back with a copy of the London Free Press yesterday at the...

Ottawa 67's forward Jeremy Akeson kicks back with a copy of the London Free Press yesterday at the team's hotel. Ottawa faces Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic tonight. (Ottawa Sun/Jason Ransom)

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:26 PM ET

LONDON -- With world-class goaltending from Danny Battochio, it's no wonder the 67's are talking about bursting through the front door at the Memorial Cup.

"That was one of the best performances ever by a goaltender -- never mind just Ottawa," 67's coach Brian Kilrea said yesterday about Battochio's stunning and record-breaking 62-save effort in Sunday's 3-2 double-OT win over the Kelowna Rockets in the longest game in tournament history.

The 67's were viewed as the event's back-door team after a loss in the OHL final to the host Knights.

That's no longer the case.

And the 67's now have a swagger, and they won't be content with ending the round-robin with a spot in Friday's tie-breaker -- of which they are now assured following Kelowna's 4-2 loss last night to the Knights -- for a playoff spot.

Their goal -- and they all feel it's attainable -- is to finish on top of the round-robin standings and get a bye into Sunday's final.

That, of course, would require a win tonight against Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic, and Thursday against the Knights.

"I think everybody is going for that," said Battochio, who looked no worse for wear yesterday about 15 hours after Ottawa's dramatic win.

"Obviously, that's what we want to do. We've been going for that right from the start. But we need to do what we can one game at a time, and we'll see what happens."

The 67's shocked pretty much everybody at the tournament -- except themselves -- when defenceman Brad Staubitz scored at 15:41 of the second overtime to give Ottawa the win over the WHL champs.

"We knew coming in that everyone was going to underestimate us, and we knew that we had the talent to come in and win hockey games," said Ottawa winger Mark Mancari, who scored a short-handed goal during Sunday's win.

"If we go out and play our game, we could possibly win all three games," he said. "We're just going to take it one game at a time, and that's the best thing we can do right now."

The first task is stopping Crosby, the 17-year-old phenom prospect, who scored 66 goals and had 168 points in 62 regular-season games.

"It should be pretty exciting," Battochio said about facing Crosby. "There are a lot of people out there who think he's the best and it's going to be a good memory for myself playing against the best player in the world at his age.

"I know he's good and we're going to be watching out for him, but he's got linemates too that can put the puck in the net."

Those linemates, Dany Roussin and Marc-Antoine Pouliot, had 54 and 45 goals, respectively, in the regular season.

Ottawa will be the visiting team in tonight's game, which means Rimouski will have last change, making it difficult for Kilrea to have who he wants on the ice against the Oceanic's top line.

The Oceanic will be looking to bounce back from a 4-3 loss in overtime to the Knights in the opening game of the tournament on Saturday.

Rimouski had London on the ropes, leading 3-1 after the first period, but allowed the Knights to get back into the game before Ottawa native Marc Methot scored the winner in overtime.

"We will be more organized on the ice. The stress won't be there this time around," said Rimouski coach Doris Labonte.

Crosby said his team doesn't think tonight's game will be easy.

"You can't look past Ottawa," he said. "They have a great team. If you get caught looking past them, they are going to burn you and beat you."

And the Oceanic, like the 67's facing Crosby, are looking forward to playing against Battochio, the tournament's newest star.

"I had heard he was good, and now after seeing him, I know he is really good," said Labonte. "But don't forget that there are other good players on that team."

Battochio's performance on Sunday impressed Crosby, who was on hand for the game.

"He looks like someone who does not give up, and that is a good trait in a goalie, someone who has second effort and does not give up on plays," said Crosby.


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