Flueler saves the day

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:05 AM ET

Brian Kilrea told his Ottawa 67's hockey club he'd like to stay for the whole game yesterday.

Thanks to a great effort by goaltender Lukas Flueler, the coach and GM did.

Backed by a 42-save effort from Flueler, the 67's beat the Owen Sound Attack 2-1 at the Civic Centre in front of 7,746 fans.

The win gave the 67's four out of six points on the weekend, coming on the heels of splitting two games with the last-place Toronto-St. Michael's Majors.

Kilrea was so disgusted with his team's effort Saturday in an 8-4 loss to St. Mike's -- Kilrea's 2,001st game -- that he left the bench and watched the second period from the press box and the third from the owner's suite.

"They let me stay today," he joked after yesterday's win, which improved Ottawa's record to 23-24-0-3.

Flueler, the rookie from Switzerland, has now won his last four games and continued his vastly improved play since returning from the world junior championship.

He made a number of great stops yesterday -- three alone on Howie Martin -- and made goals by Jamie McGinn (his 34th) and Thomas Kiriakou (seventh) stand up for the win.

Scott Tregunna scored a short-handed goal with 40 seconds left in the second period to pull the Attack to within one, but that's all they would get.

"The defence blocked a lot of shots today. That was some good work by the defence," said Flueler, who didn't see a shot on net during a 5-on-3 advantage by the Attack early in the third.

Flueler said he has played better lately because he's been working harder in practice and is stronger mentally.

"In the first half (of the season),'' he recalled, ''I would give up a couple of goals that were not good and get really mad at myself. I lost my focus a lot. It was more of a mental problem. Now I'm working hard and don't look back. I know what I have to do."

67's goaltending coach Tom Dempsey said he has seen the difference in Flueler in practice since returning from the WJC.

'DIFFERENT GUY'

"He's been working hard in every single practice. He's a different guy with a whole different attitude," said Dempsey. "Work ethic is now part of his regime and it's made a big difference in his game."

Flueler's improved play has put him in a position where he is a viable alternative to veteran Brady Morrison.

"He's been unbelievable," Kilrea said of Flueler. "Don't discount the way Brady played (earlier in the season) while we were trying to get organized. But Lukas has made a case for himself."

The 67's were unlucky not to have a good lead after two periods. In a scoreless first period, they hit the posts three times behind former 67 Anthony Guadagnolo in the Owen Sound net.

McGinn hit two of them. He later extended his goal-scoring streak to five games when he poked in a loose puck in the crease to open the scoring at 7:57 of the second.

He has seven goals in those five games and nine in his last eight games.

"To get two goals, it's great to make them stand up for the win," said Kilrea. "We needed everybody to work.

''When you only get two, you have to do the other things to win."

The 67's next game is at home Friday night against the Barrie Colts.


Videos

Photos