67's have chance to join elite

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

The 67's are about to get their hands around the most accurate measuring stick out there.

Starting tonight at the Civic Centre, they play a home-and-home series with the East Division-leading Belleville Bulls, then Sunday they're in Brampton to take on the Central Division's first-place Battalion.

Ottawa currently sits in second place, seven points behind the Bulls. A clean sweep would put them among the elite in the Eastern Conference.

"This (weekend), we can send a message to the league," veteran centre Thomas Kiriakou said yesterday.

Indeed.

The 67's are coming off tough road trip that had to be considered a relative success. They forced a shootout in Windsor against the now 19-2 Spitfires last Friday, dropped a 7-2 decision to the Saginaw Spirit one sleep later, then bounced back with a 4-2 win over the Plymouth Whalers the following day.

"We got three out of six (points) and got through a tough part of our schedule," summed up coach Brian Kilrea.

The 67's are 2-2 so far this season against Belleville, having outscored the Bulls 17-14. They beat the Battalion 4-2 in Brampton in the season opener for both teams. The teams have not seen each other since.

Chris Perugini will start in goal for Ottawa tonight. Kilrea was reluctant to reveal his goaltending plans for the rest of the weekend, pending the condition of Adam Courchaine's injured hand.

The 67's will be without rookie defenceman Brian Birkhoff (mono) and could also be missing rookie winger Pieter Schinkelshoek (elbow).

"It should bring out the best in us," Kilrea said of the weekend schedule.

National junior team hopefuls Tyler Cuma and Logan Couture will both play in exhibition games vs. Russia next week.

It's expected Team Canada's December camp invitees will be named after the games.

Meanwhile, 67's forward Tyler Toffoli has been named to Ontario's entry in the world under-17 championship, which will be played in Port Alberni, B.C., from Dec. 29-Jan. 4.


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