67's welcome reinforcements

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

They are sitting a game under .500 at 7-8 and for the 67's, all things considered, that's sitting pretty.

Normally, that record wouldn't be very satisfying for coach-GM Brian Kilrea or the club's fans. But given Ottawa's depleted roster over most of this season, it's not so bad.

The 67's will have close to a full lineup -- something that hasn't happened often this season -- for tonight's meeting with the Kitchener Rangers (9-7-0-2, fourth in the Midwest Division) at the Civic Centre (7:30 p.m.)

The 67's have also played just 15 games, the fewest in the OHL, and have five games in hand on some opponents, so the opportunity to gain ground is there.

That should be easier to accomplish with tonight's return of star centre Logan Couture, who missed 10 games with mononucleosis.

Also set to return are winger Pat Daley, who's been out with a charley horse and could be a game-time decision, veteran defenceman Brodie Beard (shoulder) and rookie forward Matt Ribeiro (mono).

You can also throw in the debut of winger Julian Cimadamore tonight. He attended training camp and had made the team, left to keep his scholarship options open, and has now returned.

The only other player looking doubtful is winger Arron Alphonso (flu).

The biggest boost is the return of the 17-year-old Couture, touted as a top pick in next summer's NHL draft.

"Just looking at having him back in the room, everybody knows how good he can be for us," said Kilrea. "We're getting our penalty killing back and when you put him on the power play, you know the puck is going to find him."

Couture will be back between wingers Jamie McGinn and Pat Lahey tonight. Kyle Jukosky will centre Jesse Biduke and Brett Liscomb; Thomas Kiriakou will be between Cimadamore and Shea Kewin; and the three kids, Ribeiro, Cody Lindsay and Thomas Nesbitt, will make up another line.

BLADE RUNNER

The 17-year-old Cimadamore had nine goals and 12 assists in 18 games after returning to the Tier 2 Oakville Blades. He was the 67's eighth-round pick (152nd overall) from the Mississauga Senators in 2005.

With the injured players coming back, Kilrea has three or four extra bodies and he's made that known around the league.

Brady Morrison will start in net tonight for the 67's while Lukas Flueler will get the call Sunday when Ottawa plays host to the Mississauga IceDogs (2 p.m.).


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