67's await stars' return

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

The absence of centre Logan Couture, defenceman Tyler Cuma and goalie Adam Courchaine naturally leaves a big hole in the middle of the 67's lineup.

But it's sure tough to see it with the cover-up job being done by those currently wearing the Ottawa colours.

Brian Kilrea's squad takes a 3-2 record into tonight's game at the Civic Centre against the Peterborough Petes (1-5-0).

"I don't know when we're getting them back, but when the time comes, we'll be happy to have them," Kilrea said of Couture and Cuma, who are still with the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild, respectively. "I think we're a pretty good team and we're going to get better."

Cuma, 18, has drawn raves for his play in the pre-season.

"The young boy, Cuma, he played an awesome game," goalie Niklas Backstrom told reporters after a 2-1 win over Buffalo. "It was fun to watch a kid that young play that well."

'SO CALM'

Veteran defenceman Kim Johnsson also spoke to the press highly when asked about Cuma's first night in a NHL jersey.

"What a strong game," said Johnsson. "He was so calm out there. He sees the ice so well, he just makes the right plays."

Couture was also showing well with the Sharks until being sidetracked by an apparent shoulder injury. Both he and Cuma are expected to rejoin the 67's.

Courchaine is suffering from a groin injury that will likely keep him out of both tonight's game and Sunday afternoon's showdown at the Civic Centre with the unbeaten Guelph Storm.

Chris Perugini, who was outstanding in a 2-1 win over the Generals last Sunday, will make his sixth and seventh straight starts.

"I felt great, actually," Perugini said of the game in Oshawa, his third trip to the crease in less than 72 hours. "I had the intensity going and the adrenaline going, so I didn't really feel tired at all. I love playing more, I love playing a lot of games, so it made life a lot easier. I was seeing the puck better. I just felt a lot more sharp in the third game. Playing more games will help me like that.

"Last year coming here, I didn't play many games as a rookie, and it was a little tough trying to get into a groove. But I feel like I'm in a groove now, and I'm going to run with it."

Along with Perugini, Kilrea praised the penalty killing and faceoff work of veteran Thomas Kiriakou last weekend.

"But it's been no one guy," said Kilrea. "A lot of guys did something."

ZAMEC BACK SUNDAY

The 67's will get Adam Zamec, a 17-goal man last season, back from a six-game suspension Sunday.

"Whenever you're missing key guys it's always a pretty big hole to fill on the team, but the guys here have really responded well the last two weekends and they're all playing strong," said Perugini. "We're playing as a team, which is important. It's really paying off. We're looking really good early on this season, and hopefully we can carry it on."


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