Returning 67's provide boost

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

It's back to sandwiches and highways for Logan Couture, and truth be told, the 67's captain doesn't really mind at all.

Dealing with some serious jetlag, the ninth pick in the 2007 entry draft had a strong game and scored an assist his coach fought for in yesterday afternoon's 4-1 win over the Guelph Storm at the Civic Centre.

Also returning in time to help the 67's pick up their first home win of the season and improve their record to 4-3 was defenceman Tyler Cuma, another first-round selection who opened eyes with his play at the Minnesota Wild camp.

"I'm just glad they're here," Ottawa coach Brian Kilrea said after having his entire squad together for the first time. His impression? "I know we have some good talent. It's going to be tough ... I understand everyone wants to play and we want to try and help them play. But you want to help yourself, too. (They) just have to bide their time and work hard."

Sitting as a healthy scratch for a second straight game was European import Yakov Vorobyov. Sixteen-year-old rookies Derek Hartwick, Ryan Hanes and Pieter Schinkelshoek also watched from the stands.

What they saw from their teammates, they had to like.

The 67's received some solid goaltending from Chris Perugini and were convincing in their dominance of a team that only a night before lost its first game of the season. Corey Cowick led the way for Ottawa with two goals, while Thomas Nesbitt and Tyler Toffoli had the others.

"We capitalized on our chances," said Kilrea. "They don't give up a lot."

The lead-up to opening faceoff was hectic for Couture. First came word that he was being demoted by the San Jose Sharks. Then there was the late night Friday following a team dinner. Then a 4 a.m. wakeup call for a 6:30 a.m. flight Saturday morning. The 4 1/2 hours on the plane led to a 3 1/2 layover in Chicago, then a connector that didn't get him into Ottawa until 8 p.m.

To top it all off, his sticks were lost on the way.

"I was exhausted," Couture said of the day's events after he was one of the final cuts by a team expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

Soothing were the encouraging words Sharks management had for Couture before he departed.

"They told me I had a good camp and to come back (to Ottawa) and have a good year ... that hopefully I could play deep into April or May," said the slick, 19-year-old centre. "They said I'm close (to making the NHL), but not this year ... they have 14 (forwards) with experience. It's a tough team to make.

"I was disappointed, but at the same time I'm excited. This team (67's) is headed in the right direction."

The highlight of his camp with the big boys?

"Taking a private jet (to a pre-season game against Anaheim)," he said, chuckling. "I'm used to jumping on the bus and having Arby's ... getting a steak on the plane was a little better."

Cowick's second goal was an empty-netter that was originally deemed an unassisted effort. Kilrea went to officials afterwards to make sure Couture was given the helper he deserved.

"I told him, it's fine ... he was pretty upset, especially with this being our home rink," Couture said of his coach's efforts to get him the point. "But not everyone is perfect."

Cuma, 18, played in three pre-season games with the Wild and also returned feeling good about his future.

"I didn't make the team, but the biggest thing is I left a good impression with the staff," he said.


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