Bulls dampen holiday cheer for the 67's

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:39 PM ET

Bulls 3, 67's 1

The 67's didn't get any early Christmas gifts in last night's game against the Belleville Bulls.

In their last home appearance before the Christmas break, they outshot the Bulls by a 2-to-1 margin, but came up on the wrong end of a 3-1 setback at the Civic Centre.

Belleville goalie and Clarence Creek native Kevin Lalande made 40 saves, only to be beaten on a perfect wrist shot by Bryan Bickell in the first period.

Other than that goal, it was a great night for Lalande, a Calgary Flames draftee.

"It's been three years now, and I've had zero success in this barn," he said. "It's a huge thing, and a big monkey off my back."

Lalande deserved a post-game honour as the first star, but he got some help at times from some of the Ottawa shooters who had great chances but couldn't bury.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

At the start of the second period, 67's captain Julian Talbot intercepted a clearing attempt in the Bulls zone and had an opportunity right in front, one-on-one with Lalande.

But the puck rolled off his stick at the last second and went wide of the net.

He had another chance during a power play later in the period, getting a pass alone in the slot, only to clank the puck off the post.

And rookie Logan Couture had another opportunity with Lalande down on his belly in the crease, but rushed his backhander over an open top half of the net and the crossbar.

"You've got to be good to be lucky, I guess, and this was one of those nights," said Lalande.

The message board in the 67's dressing room carried a message that last night's game and Ottawa's next two games tonight in Barrie and tomorrow in Oshawa were the most important of the season.

"They're all teams in our (conference). Going into Christmas, we need to get our confidence up and have a better second half," said Bickell who scored his 22nd goal of the year when he beat Lalande over the left shoulder with a precise wrist shot.

Matt Beleskey put the Bulls ahead late in the second on a goal that barely made it across the line.

Ottawa goalie Danny Battochio made an incredible effort just to get his stick on Beleskey's shot from right in front, but the puck flopped over the side and trickled across the line to give Belleville the lead.

Then in the third, Beleskey sealed it after the 67's coughed up the puck in the defensive zone.

He fired a slap shot from the right point that deflected off an Ottawa defender in front and got behind Battochio into the top corner of the net.

67's coach and GM Brian Kilrea was in the Toronto area last night to watch other OHL teams as the league's trade deadline approaches early next month.

Assistants Bert O'Brien and Vince Malette controlled the Ottawa bench.


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