Goalie set for running of Bulls

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

A bright student at Ottawa U, Brady Morrison knows the career path he eventually wants to follow.

"I'm a big business, money kind of guy," said the accounting major. "It's definitely something I want to get into once I'm done playing hockey."

The 67's, however, need Morrison to be their money guy now.

As Brian Kilrea's choice to start the playoffs between the pipes, the 19-year-old Thamesville product will be a key player when the best-of-seven opening round series finally gets underway against the Belleville Bulls tonight at Yardmen Arena.

The 67's hopes of advancing could very well depend on Morrison, whose only OHL post-season experience came in relief last spring.

STAYING COOL

"I'm not too nervous about it ... no matter if it's hockey or anything, I've never really been a guy to get too nervous," said Morrison. "We've got all the guys here that can pull it through here. I'm pretty confident with the bunch we have, when we are playing to our full ability.

"I want to go out there and do what I can. If I have to steal a game, then I have to steal a game. But if it takes a 7-6 game, that's all that matters to me. A win is a win. I just have to do my job."

At the same time, Morrison is also smart enough to know it won't be a simple task. In claiming the division, the Bulls finished the regular season 19 points ahead of Ottawa. Belleville won 7-of-8 meetings between the teams, but the overall combined score (36-26) is evidence that the season series could have wound up a little closer.

In breaking down the series, Morrison also realizes nobody will be putting a check mark beside his name. That's primarily because Belleville has Kevin Lalande, a fifth-round pick of the Calgary Flames who is considered one of the best goalies in the OHL.

While Morrison was 21-23-3 and had a save percentage of .887 and a goals-against average of 3.79, Lalande was 27-17-3 with a .919 save percentage and 3.01 G.A.A.

Morrison and Lalande squared off four times this season, and in those games both made a total of 118 saves. Belleville won each, however, by scores of 4-3, 4-3, 5-3 and 4-2. Morrison was in goal for Ottawa's 8-4 win Dec. 10, but Lalande didn't play.

BULL EARNS RESPECT

"They're getting the goaltending edge, for sure," Morrison said matter-of-factly. "For the last three years, he ... deserves that respect."

Kilrea says that Morrison "carried the ball for us" in the first half of the season, while rookie European import Lukas Flueler was finding his way.

When Flueler came back from the world junior championship, he was a better goalie, and while Morrison's play slipped a bit, the 67's were decent enough at the postion.

''I don't think over the course of the season we had too many off nights in goal," said Kilrea. "In any playoff series, the goalie is the key position. When a team gets hot at this time of year, usually it's the goalie.

"But will our defence be able to stand up to their forwards? They have a lot of power up front. I think our defence has to be at their best. And the forwards have to have the puck in the opposing end of the ice, too, so that our defence and goalie aren't under siege all the time."

Said Morrison: "There are a lot of people who think we underachieved this season, but we've got a lot of young players compared to last year's team, and we had one more win that we did last year. We could have done better, but we weren't a disappointment.

"Overall, I think I'm pretty happy with my season. I went out and tried to do what I could to get some wins. Some of them weren't pretty, but at the end of the day we got in the playoffs, and that was the real goal for this team. Killer's team has been known to come in seventh or eighth and upset some teams, so just getting in is the main thing."

Morrison's options for next season are open, ranging from coming back as an overager to university hockey to playing somewhere as a pro.


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