Lack of passion costly for 67's

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

LONDON -- You can only imagine the frustration. To come this far, to overcome as much as they have overcome ... and deliver a dud like the Ottawa 67's did last night is ... well, listen to 67's coach and GM Brian Kilrea.

"I'm not happy," said Kilrea as he made his way back to the 67's bus after their 4-3 loss to the Rimouski Oceanic .

"There are not too many guys who can leave this building (last night) saying they played their best."

That is simply not acceptable, not now, not here. If only some of the players' effort had matched the coach's desperation.

Faced with pretty much half a bench for most of the game, Kilrea furiously juggled defensive pairings, line combinations ... trying to find something that would work.

"We just didn't play well ... but give (Rimouski) credit," said Kilrea. "They sure capitalized off the gifts we gave them."

"We've had trouble with consistency all year," said defenceman Brad Staubitz, who had a goal and an assist last night.

The 67's played poorly in their own zone last night, but goaltender Danny Battochio was there time and again, frustrating Rimouski star Sidney Crosby a couple of times with big saves.

For sure, the 67's showed some spunk in the third, scoring a couple of goals to keep clawing their way back.

They made Crosby's life pretty miserable, hitting him and hacking him whenever they had the chance.

The plain truth is despite the closeness of the 4-3 score, the shot total in their favour and a brief, third-period surge, the 67's had too many passengers last night.

When youngsters Pat Ouellette and Arron Alphonso are among your most noticeable players in the second period, there's something not right. In a game like last night's, some of the veterans should have been more prominent.

Luckily for the 67's, they still have time to find their "A' game.

Character? They have plenty. Talent? Enough to win here.

But it is not possible in this rarefied air when only a handful of players exhibit both.

HEAR AND THERE: Kilrea was asked a leading question after the game about the lack of calls involving hits on Crosby. "To be honest, I didn't think we hit anybody," he said. "If we were credited with some hits, I'd have to see the replay and see how we got them." ... NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in the building last night. Maybe he picked up some pointers on how to run a league where the hockey is actually entertaining, and hockey is actually being played ... Scotty Bowman is picking the London Knights to win it all. Yeah, like that's not a crowded bandwagon.

REVELATIONS: If you are in the London area and looking for a golf course, Fanshawe Golf and Country Club is worth a look. It's run by the city and the "Traditional" course is beautifully maintained. It's easily the best $31 golf course I've played. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming ... FYI, The Ottawa 67's Booster Club is gathering at Stout Bros. (1344 Bank, at Riverside) for 67's games.

SPECULATIONS: Alphonso has drawn the opposition into three penalties at this Memorial Cup which is what happens when you work hard ... You also get scoring chances like Alphonso had late in the second, only to fire wide long side at an open net. You could feel his pain ... They should have Rimouski coach Doris Labonte at every post-game press conference. Even on the nights Rimouski's not playing. He's a treat, speaking from the heart and with passion, something with which most coaches (hi, Dale Hunter) are not familiar.

JUST WONDERING: Ottawa's Lukas Kaspar made a nice play to knock down Jean-Michel Bolduc's clearing attempt and then put a low shot at the middle of the net through Rimouski goaltender Cedrick Desjardins. Funny what happens when you get the puck on net, huh? ... That was a nice touch last night, honouring OHL linesman Ken Cox for his years of service to the league. This is his seventh Memorial Cup and he's retiring when it's done. But did they have to delay the start of the third period to do it? ... How does referee Richard Forest miss the two-hander Rimouski's Erick Tremblay delivered to the left arm of Ottawa's Chris Hulit last night? It was right in front of the net with the puck in the vicinity. What was Forest looking at?

LET ME SAY THIS ABOUT THAT: One of the things you have to like about Crosby's game is he stands up for himself. He didn't like some treatment he got from 67's captain Will Colbert, so, when the play went up the ice, he gave Colbert a nice jab in the back of the leg ... Colbert got him back (unintentionally, of course) with a pretty good high stick to the chin in the third when he tried to lift Crosby's stick.

PARTING SHOT: Desjardins intentionally knocked his net off the moorings Saturday. He did it again last night. He should play for the expansion team in Newfoundland next year for all the nets he casts.


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