Brawl overshadows 67's fine performance

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:38 PM ET

67's 4, Spirit 1

It looked like Brady Morrison was going to steal the show last night at the Civic Centre.

But a brawl in the final minute became the big news during a 4-1 67's victory over the Saginaw Spirit.

Morrison stopped 32 shots as an emergency replacement for Danny Battochio, who couldn't play net because of the flu.

But he ended up having a close view of a wild scene with 44 seconds left in the game.

The brawl, which saw the expulsion of 11 players, stemmed from incidents during the previous meeting between the clubs last month in Saginaw.

During that 7-5 Spirit victory, 67's newcomer Joe Grimaldi hit Spirit captain Patrick McNeill, and then was mugged by Saginaw's Jesse Gimblett.

So in the final minute last night, McNeill tried to get revenge, and took a run at Grimaldi in the neutral zone.

But Grimaldi levelled McNeill with a punch, triggering a brawl that involved most players on the ice.

Even ones that weren't.

Scott Fletcher, Saginaw's leader in penalty minutes, jumped off the Spirit bench and took a run at Ottawa rookie Logan Couture.

Couture ducked a roundhouse punch at the last moment from Fletcher, and was spared by teammate Elgin Reid, who leapt over the boards at the Ottawa bench to fight against Fletcher.

"I did what I had to do," said Reid, sporting a shiner. "He's one of their toughest guys on that team and I can't sit back and watch that.

The league will review the incident and several players face suspension.

Fletcher, who received a fighting major, a game misconduct and a gross misconduct, will likely get the harshest penalty from OHL commissioner Dave Branch and the league office.

Reid will also be forced to sit out some games, but won't receive as harsh a punishment.

"They were trying to get me to fight all game," said Grimaldi, who delivered more solid checks to Saginaw players last night. "I just had to wait for the right spot."

Ottawa coach Brian Kilrea absolved Reid from criticism for jumping off the bench.

"I'm glad Elgin did it. I just hope the league understands. It's pretty good when a guy will come off the bench and go after your leading rookie," Kilrea huffed.

Morrison learned just hours before the opening faceoff that he'd make his second straight start at home.

And he made the most of the chance, playing well throughout and showing none of the nervousness that plagued him during his first home start last Sunday against Plymouth.

"Even if Danny was able to play, I was ready," said Morrison, who allowed only a third period goal to Jamie Klie.

The 67's had plenty of jump last night, getting an edge in the opening period.

Jamie McGinn scored on a tip during a power play three minutes into the game, followed by goals from rookies Shea Kewin and Couture later in the period.

Tibor Radulay, with his parents watching from the stands and visiting from Slovakia, had a strong game, setting up the winning goal with strong work behind the net.

He bulled his way through two checks to get the puck into the slot where Kewin swooped on it for the score.

"Maybe his family will stay here. He'll be better for it, and so will we," said Kilrea.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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