Battochio saves day in 67's opening win

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:57 AM ET

SAULT STE. MARIE -- For starters, the 67's put on a pretty good show.

So did the Soo Greyhounds in a 4-3 nailbiter that went Ottawa's way during the OHL season opener for both clubs at the Sault Memorial Gardens.

Ahead 4-0 and seemingly in control after rookie Logan Couture scored his first OHL goal early in the third period, the Greyhounds got three of their own goals in the final 16 minutes to make it close.

67's goalie Danny Battochio started where he left off last season, stopping 37 shots, many of them of a spectacular nature.

Shortly after Couture scored, the Greyhounds got goals from Ryan Kitchen and Tyler Kennedy. Then Ryan McInerney tallied a power-play marker with two minutes left and Soo goalie Kyle Gajewski on the bench for an extra attacker.

"You don't want to have to rely on Danny this early and this much, but we did," said 67's coach-GM Brian Kilrea, whose club was outshot 17-5 in the third period.

"We sat back and let them come and we started making mistakes, and when you make mistakes it's compounded because somebody else will make a mistake."

Fourth-liner David Jarram, veteran defenceman Derek Joslin and overage forward Julian Talbot also scored for the 67's.

Couture, Ottawa's top pick in the draft last May, showed the poise of a veteran, making heads-up plays at both ends of the ice. On his goal, he picked up a loose puck in the slot and fired it behind Gajewski.

Joslin scooped up the puck and handed it to Couture for a souvenir.

"Any goal you get can be a winner because you never know in junior hockey," said Kilrea. "I don't know many other guys who could have been able to take the puck out of that scramble like he did and shoot it as quick as he did.

"It's the great hands that he has, the quick hands. He's going to get a lot of them before his time's up."

As expected, Battochio, the team's undisputed MVP last season, delivered another all-star calibre performance, stopping 23 shots through the opening two periods.

With the 67's up 3-0, Battochio made at least four saves during one session of sustained pressure in the second period to keep the Greyhounds off the board.

"We looked pretty good, but in the third, it was just one of those breakdowns that you just can't have," said Battochio. "We need to play 60 minutes of hockey and we really didn't do it, but at the same time we capitalized on our chances and that made us successful."

TIMELY DEFLECTION

Jarram, a former Greyhound, became the unlikely scorer of Ottawa's first goal at 2:58 of the first period. The puck deflected off his body into the net on a shot from the point by rookie linemate Thomas Kiriakou after a Greyhounds turnover.

Joslin scored about three minutes later on a weak goal, shooting a wrister from the top of the left faceoff circle that fluttered through a screen and between Gajewski's pads.

In the second, Ottawa took a 3-0 lead on a power play when Talbot deflected a shot by Chris Hulit in front.

NOTES: Ottawa rests today before continuing its northern road trip in Sudbury tomorrow ... As expected, Talbot began the season wearing the captain's C. He follows in the footsteps of older brother Joe, who also served as a 67's captain. Hulit, Bryan Bickell and Elgin Reid are the assistants.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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