Smolenak is Fronts and centre

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:22 AM ET

When the Frontenacs and 67's combined for 17 goals during a wild OHL game in Kingston two weeks ago, Radek Smolenak wasn't around for the action.

The Kingston winger was serving a suspension and was forced to miss the scoring festival.

But yesterday he made up for that absence.

The Czech import scored three times including the game-winner during a 5-4 overtime victory over the 67's in front of 8,422 fans at the Civic Centre.

Smolenak scored 41 seconds into extra time, pushing the puck past a sprawling Danny Battochio for the winner to give the Frontenacs a third win over Ottawa in four games this season.

The result ruined a spirited effort by the 67's, who rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to send it into OT in their third game in less than 48 hours.

"We were down when they tied it up," said Smolenak, a third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning who notched the first hat trick of his two-year OHL career.

"We knew that we had to win this game, so it was good for us to score in overtime."

The 67's were the victims of misfortune on the winning goal.

The puck took an unusual bounce in the Kingston end, got behind the Ottawa defence and right to rookie Peder Skinner, who broke in alone on Battochio.

Skinner tried a deke, but the puck rolled off his stick, hit the outside of the right post, and went behind the Ottawa net.

The Frontenacs pressured the Ottawa defence and forced a turnover.

Defenceman Mike Looby got the puck out to the right point for Orleans native Ben Shutron, who fired it through traffic toward the net.

After hitting the far post, the puck bounced right to Smolenak, who easily slid the puck into the net.

Smolenak also scored a pair of power-play goals in the second period that gave the Frontenacs a 3-1 advantage.

"It's an important win for us because it's a team in our division," said Smolenak, whose Frontenacs moved three points ahead of the 67's in the tight Eastern Conference standings. "For us, every game against a team in our division is like a playoff game."

Skinner gave the Frontenacs a 4-2 advantage two minutes into the third, but the 67's rallied to get back into it.

Brodie Beard scored his fourth goal of the season in the sixth minute, and Bryan Bickell got the equalizer with 4:40 remaining.

Getting the game into overtime salvaged a point for Ottawa in the standings, and completed a decent weekend which also included wins Friday at home against Oshawa and Saturday in Belleville.

Ottawa coach and GM Brian Kilrea took a swipe at the league's schedule-maker after the game.

The Frontenacs had Saturday off and travelled to Ottawa that day to attend the Senators-Bruins game at the Corel Centre, and stayed in Ottawa following the game.

"It would have been just as easy for (Kingston) to travel to Belleville and then travel down (to Ottawa)," said Kilrea.

"We had to go right by Kingston on the way up, and right by Kingston on the way back, and they're sitting in Ottawa because they came to the game."

Kilrea quickly pointed out, however, that the scheduling had little to do with yesterday's outcome.

The 67's were without wingers Tibor Radulay and Arron Alphonso again, and Kilrea wasn't certain when either would return, but hopes to have both back soon.

Of the two, Radulay is more likely to return first when an injured shoulder mends.

Alphonso is having an MRI done on an injured knee later this week and is hoping he won't be out for much longer.

Ottawa is back in action on Friday with a home game against Sarnia.

IN THE CREASE: The 67's got a visit from former D Nick Van Herpt following the game. Van Herpt, a Kingston native, is playing university hockey for the Laurier Golden Hawks of the OUA. He's a teammate of older brother, Ed, a goalie.


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