The Erie Otters have an edge on the 67's in at least one category heading into their OHL tilt tonight at the Civic Centre.
While Brian Kilrea's boys will benefit from the return of star rookie Logan Couture from an international competition, the Otters will top that. Michael Blunden and Ryan O'Marra arrive in Ottawa from Vancouver this afternoon after helping Canada win the gold medal at the world juniors last night.
"Both of the teams will be better off with the guys who are coming back," 67's coach Kilrea said yesterday. "It's going to make it a better game."
The timing couldn't have been better for Blunden, an Orleans resident who scored two goals in Canada's decisive 5-0 victory over Russia last night.
The 19-year-old right winger has a career-high 27 goals with the Otters this season, his fourth with Erie.
Meanwhile, O'Marra returns to provide the Otters with his swift skating and accurate shooting, attributes which made the 18-year-old a first-round pick of the New York Islanders at the 2005 NHL draft.
The 67's are also eager to have Couture back in the fold. The 16-year-old centre missed three games last week while playing for Ontario at the under-17 world challenge in Saskatchewan.
While Ontario finished fifth in the event, Couture put up some good numbers, getting five goals and eight points in five games.
"I spoke with him (Wednesday) night at his hotel and he seemed pretty happy about how he did," said Kilrea. "It'll be good to have him back. It gets us back to normal. I know his linemates (Jamie McGinn and Matt Lahey) will be glad to see him back, and I'll be glad to see him back."
67's winger Arron Alphonso has a sore back and might not be able to go tonight (7:30 p.m.).
Danny Battochio will start in net for the 67's, who play host to the Otters for the lone time this season.
IN THE CREASE: Quebec won the world under-17 challenge yesterday, beating the U.S. 5-2 in the championship game in Regina. Gatineau Olympiques forward Michael Stinziani played for the winning team ... The 'Piques continue a four-game trip to the Maritimes tonight in Halifax against the Mooseheads.