Couture's broom completes sweep

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:40 AM ET

A rare, three-game sweep has put the 67's in a favourable position to lock down third place in the OHL's Eastern Conference.

Holding the hot broom again yesterday was captain Logan Couture.

The smooth centre scored twice and added an assist in a 6-2 victory over a Sudbury Wolves team fighting for its playoff life at the Civic Centre.

Couture, who had 23 points in 12 games last month, now has nine in five in March.

The broom analogy wasn't just a cute transition. Couture is on such a roll that, on a second-period play while falling down and facing away from the net, he made good contact as he flipped the blade of his stick so it was pointed downward and waved it like he was cleaning out the garage. Only a great pad stop by Sudbury goalie Alain Valiquette kept him from scoring.

"I didn't think," Couture said when asked about the move. "I saw the puck go up in the air. I just turned the stick and swatted at it. I thought it went in at first. (Valiquette) made a nice save."

Couture, who leads the 67's with 34 goals and 45 assists for 79 points, has been on a well-documented mission since being left out of world junior tryouts before Christmas.

"First part of the season, I wasn't working as hard as I should have been," said the San Jose Sharks prospect. "After the world juniors, I decided to step it up a little bit. Things have just gone my way. I started scoring goals again. It's been fun."

The win, on the heels of victories Thursday and Friday, put the 67's four points up on Mississauga in the race for third and possible home-ice advantage down the road.

Ottawa has three games left in the regular season, starting with tomorrow's rescheduled game in Kingston (their Jan. 28 game was postponed due to a snowstorm), while the Majors have two.

With the Wolves playing their third game in as many days, the 67's took advantage of one of the visitors' four straight first-period power plays when Thomas Kiriakou scored his 29th of the season. Couture intercepted a pass in the high slot and with a deft backhand, made it 2-0 before the intermission.

The Wolves cut into the lead in the second, but the 67's pulled further ahead late in the period with goals by Thomas Nesbitt and Anthony Nigro 27 seconds apart.

Couture ended any thought of a Sudbury comeback with his second goal, 26 seconds into the third.

'GLAD' FOR COURCHAINE

Ottawa outshot the Wolves 58-32. Adam Courchaine was solid in the 67's goal.

"We knew Sudbury had to be a tired club," said 67's coach Brian Kilrea. "Give them credit for working. We had enough chances to break it open, we just couldn't do it.

"I'm glad we played well, and I'm glad Courchaine had a good game. It's encouraging to see Adam play that well."

It wasn't all good news for the 67's, who lost stalwart defenceman Julien Demers in the third when he was hit by a shot in the elbow.

The 67's expect centre Ryan Martindale (mono) back in the lineup for Kilrea's last two regular-season games behind the bench, Friday against Peterborough and Sunday against Kingston, both at the Civic Centre.


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