Rookie faceoff fires up Couture

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:43 PM ET

67's 4, Bulls 2

Logan Couture might have wanted to save his performance from last night's win for this afternoon's game in Oshawa.

The highly-touted 67's rookie centre scored twice, including a penalty shot goal, during a 4-2 win over the Belleville Bulls at the Civic Centre.

But today, he gets to face the Oshawa Generals, the team which had committed to take him first overall during last May's OHL draft.

The Generals, however, selected John Tavares, who was 14 at the time, after the OHL allowed the young superstar to be eligible for the draft.

Couture and his family weren't happy and warned OHL teams not to pick him.

But Ottawa gambled and chose him 12th overall, and they're glad they did.

Now Couture gets a chance for some revenge.

"It's going to be different," said Couture last night after being selected the first star for the first time in his OHL career. "Hopefully we can just get a win and get out of there. But I'm just going to treat it like any other game.

Couture, a 16-year-old from London, scored his fifth goal of the year early in the third during a power play, firing a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that beat goalie Kevin Lalande, a Clarence Creek native, on the far side.

The Bulls began the third minus defenceman Wes Cunningham, who received a match penalty for slew-footing Ottawa's Pat Ouellette at the end of the second period.

The 67's capitalized on Couture's first goal. Later, ahead 3-1 and killing a penalty, Couture broke in alone on the Belleville goal, but was hauled down from behind by Belleville's Andrew Gibbons.

On the penalty shot, Couture looked like a veteran, ripping a wrister over Lalande's glove to give the 67's a three-goal lead, and Couture the first multi-goal game of his career. "When I went out there on the penalty shot ... I didn't get nervous, or anything like that," he said.

Couture's penalty-shot goal was Ottawa's second shorthanded marker of the night, after Chris Hulit opened the scoring in the first while killing a penalty. Rookie Shea Kewin gave the 67's a 2-0 lead in the second.

Ottawa got on the bus following the game and headed for Belleville, where they stayed overnight. Today's game in Oshawa is at 2 p.m.

"It's an afternoon game, so you're not going to drive from here to Oshawa (today) and expect the guys to play well," said 67's coach/GM Brian Kilrea.

PRAYERS FOR SAVAGE: Teams and fans observed a moment of silent prayer for former 67 and St-Albert native Sebastien Savage, who was paralyzed in an on-ice accident last weekend while playing for the University of Moncton's hockey team. The 67's and Ottawa Senators have established a trust fund for Savage and his family and will announce fundraising initiatives in the coming weeks.

GROULX GOES LONG-TERM: The Gatineau Olympiques, who scored a 4-3 win over the Rimouski Oceanic last night at the Robert Guertin Centre, signed coach Benoit Groulx to a five-year extension. Unless Groulx gets a shot in the pros, he'll coach the 'Piques through the 2009-2010 season. Last night, Gatineau got a pair of goals from Nic Fugere early in the third for the win.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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