Tavares chasing Great One

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:55 AM ET

There are a few details John Tavares will want to work on between now and his NHL draft day in June 2009.

Brian Kilrea knows one of them.

"Yeah," the 67's coach and GM deadpanned yesterday. "Getting a good accountant."

Tavares, the Oshawa Generals phenom, is about to make back-to-back Civic Centre pit stops on what looks to be a road to hockey fame and fortune.

Tonight, when he lines up against the 67's and goalie Brady Morrison, he'll be trying to equal/break the league record for most goals by a 16-year old, set by some kid named Wayne Gretzky in 1977-78. If he doesn't get it then, Tavares will have another crack tomorrow afternoon, when the same teams tangle in a 2 p.m. start at the Civic Centre.

"I guess there aren't many people who can say they've broken a record set by Gretzky," mused 67's owner Jeff Hunt.

THIRD IN SCORING RACE

Tavares, who had 45 goals with the Generals as a 15-year-old rookie last season, has 12 more goals than the OHL's second-leading sniper as the 2006-07 campaign heads into its final weekend.

Through 64 games, he has scored 69 times and added another 56 assists, leaving him third in the league's points race.

In Gretzky's lone, full season in what was then known as the Ontario Hockey Association, he had 70 goals and 112 assists for 182 points in 64 games. That wasn't good enough to earn him the scoring title, however. That was claimed by 67's centre Bobby Smith, who had 69 goals and 123 assists for 192 points in 61 games.

"He was a dominating player," Kilrea, who was in his fourth year at the 67's helm, said when asked what Gretzky was like at 16. "You could just see the greatness starting."

Compared to Tavares, today?

"You don't want to put any pressure on John Tavares, but he is an exceptional talent," said Kilrea. "He deserves a lot of credit for the numbers he has.

"He kills penalties, plays the power play ... he has great endurance and great vision.

"When his draft year comes, one team is going to have a tremendous sigh of relief ... it'll be like when (the New York Knicks) got Patrick Ewing first overall (in 1985).

"Whoever ends up getting that ping pong ball ... it'll be the day they can start building their future."

Kilrea, however, is quick to add his team "won't be watching John Tavares" tonight. The 67's have their game to worry about.

LIKELY TO FACE BULLS

While they have guaranteed themselves a playoff spot, the 67's were clobbered 6-1 by the Belleville Bulls on Wednesday. Heading into last night's action, the 67's had three possible first-round opponents -- Belleville, Barrie and Mississauga.

And they knew they could scratch Barrie off the list if the Bulls beat the Battalion last night.

The most likely scenario remains an Ottawa-Belleville opening-round series.

"We didn't leave (the Bulls) a message, if that's who we wind up with," Kilrea said of Wednesday's game. "We started poorly and got worse."

The 67's, who host Sudbury Sunday to complete their three-game homestand, still have a mathematical chance to catch the Wolves for sixth place as weekend play begins.


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