67's 7, Otters 2
The 67's put out the welcome mat for Canadian junior heroes Michael Blunden and Ryan O'Marra last night.
Then they pulled it out from under them.
Less than 24 hours after the linemates with the Erie Otters struck gold for Canada at the world tournament in Vancouver, they received a special honour at centre ice from the 67's before last night's OHL game.
But the 67's, battling for playoff positioning in a tight Eastern Conference race, got down to business and cruised to a 7-2 victory at the Civic Centre.
"I was tired," said Blunden, an Orleans resident who scored twice during Canada's 5-0 win over Russia in Thursday's gold medal game.
Blunden beat Ottawa goalie Danny Battochio for Erie's second goal, and had an assist along with O'Marra on his team's other goal last night, scored by former Oshawa forward Adam Berti.
Not bad for a kid who had just played in a world championship game, stayed up all night to celebrate, then flew six hours to his hometown to join his junior team.
"I didn't really have my legs," said Blunden, wearing his gold medal after the game. "I felt a lot of lactic acid in my legs, and it was a tough game. The 67's played really hard, and they came out right at us."
Clearly unfazed by the glorious golden boys, the Ottawa players led 2-1 after the first, 4-2 after two periods and pulled away with goals from Arron Alphonso, Bryan Bickell and Matt Lahey in the final period.
They played well defensively too, limiting the Otters to just 22 shots on Battochio.
"We were amazing on defence. The guys were awesome all night," said Battochio.
Up front, the 67's looked good too, with the top line of captain Julian Talbot, Chris Hulit and Bickell leading the way. Talbot and Hulit got the first two goals, and Bickell scored on a giveaway in the third when the 67's put this one away.
"I know it was close at the start, but I thought we were skating and moving the puck pretty good," said coach Brian Kilrea, who wasn't surprised Blunden and O'Marra played. "We knew they were tired. But I think (Otters coach Dave MacQueen) was hoping that just having them in the lineup would inspire the rest."
The 67's boarded a bus after the game and travelled to Belleville last night. They play the Generals in Oshawa this afternoon and continue the road trip tomorrow in Mississauga against the IceDogs.
'PIQUES LOSE: At Halifax, the Gatineau Olympiques dropped a 6-5 decision to the Mooseheads in a shootout during QMJHL action.