Re-Pete isn't impossible for 67's

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

The 67's are up against the Peterborough Petes in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

And it's a series that probably shouldn't last very long.

But it will.

Earlier this season, Peterborough was rolling through the competition and seemed to be this year's team of destiny.

But the London Knights overtook the Petes for the overall lead in points, and now the seeming invincibility in Peterborough has vanished.

On paper, the Petes should win their series with the 67's based on six wins in eight contests between the clubs during the regular season, but don't count the 67's out just yet.

They have Danny Battochio between the pipes and, as he's proven previously, he could be a great equalizer.

They're winning games as the regular schedule draws to a close -- Friday's overtime victory against Oshawa gave them a season-high three-game win streak, and a victory over Sudbury today would put them on a nice roll heading into Thursday's Eastern Conference quarter-final opener in Peterborough.

The 67's have also played well against upper-echelon teams like the Petes this season, particularly at home, so there's no reason for Ottawa to think it can't compete.

And finally, there's the memory of last year's conference final in which the 67's completed an improbable sweep of the favoured Petes.

Peterborough will certainly remember that indignity and try to throw it right back at coach Brian Kilrea and his boys. But there are enough 67's left from last year's squad who recall when nobody believed they could beat the Petes in 2005, and they ended up winning four straight en route to a Memorial Cup berth.

The direction of this series will depend greatly on the turn of Thursday's game.

If the 67's win or make it close, the series could go the distance. And then, it's anybody's guess on who moves ahead.

But if the Petes win convincingly, it'll be difficult for to Ottawa recover.

Don't forget that Battochio, an overage player, is approaching the end of his junior hockey days.

He, more than any other player on the ice, could determine how many games remain during a memorable stint in a 67's jersey.

SUDBURY THIS AFTERNOON: The Wolves make their only regular-season appearance at the Civic Centre today, and first since last year's conference semi-final when Battochio, a Sudbury native, made several miraculous stops to lead the 67's to a series win. The 67's and Wolves have a decent rivalry despite an infrequency of games between the clubs. Back in September, the teams nearly got into a post-game mix-up after a wild finish to a 4-3 Ottawa win. It's unlikely that the simmering bitterness between these teams will come to the surface in today's game, with nothing on the line for the 67's other than a chance to finish the year with a four-game win streak. The Wolves don't really have anything to gain either, but will find out at the end of the contest who'll they'll face in the opening round.

GLANCE AT GATINEAU: The Olympiques complete the regular season today in Val-d'Or and will finish fourth in the QMJHL's West Division. That placing sets up a first-round matchup with the Shawinigan Cataractes and it should be an interesting series. At the trade deadline, the 'Piques shipped fifth-year winger and sniper Guillaume Labrecque to the Cats for prospect Matthew Pistilli and a second-round pick in the next league draft. Now Labrecque has a chance for revenge against his former club.

HOME OF THE BRAVE: The Brockville Braves have a shot at completing the first major upset of the CJHL playoffs. A win this afternoon over the Nepean Raiders at Steve Yzerman Arena would clinch the Braves the best-of-seven divisional semi-final in five games and advance them to the league semi-final against the Pembroke Lumber Kings. Brockville's Landon Lavictoire scored the overtime winner in a 3-2 victory in Nepean on Thursday, and the Braves followed with a 9-6 win in Game 4 in Brockville the next night. Pembroke, meanwhile, completed a four-game sweep of the Smiths Falls Bears with a 12-2 win on Friday. The Robinson Division semi-finals are close, with the Hawkesbury Hawks and Cornwall Colts holding 2-1 leads over the Cumberland Grads and Ottawa Senators, respectively. The fourth games of both series go tonight with Ottawa in Cornwall and Hawkesbury in Cumberland.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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