Not worth fighting for

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:51 AM ET

Seven years later, the Ottawa 67's and Gatineau Olympiques will renew their interprovincial rivalry tonight at the Civic Centre.

Just don't expect them to renew their history of fisticuffs when the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. in the first game of a home-and-home pre-season series.

With stiff penalties for dropping the gloves, both teams have already agreed to try to keep the focus on preparing for their respective seasons.

"We want competitive games. We hope that it's not old-style, old-school hockey. We hope that it's hard-hitting and quick and that both teams are playing to get ready for their seasons," said 67's coach Chris Byrne, who will make his Civic Centre debut in the top job behind the bench.

The Olympiques, who will host the second game Sunday (7 p.m.) at the Robert Guertin Centre, are on the same page with their regular season starting in just a week.

Coach Jerome Dupont dropped by the 67's office yesterday to say hello to GM Brian Kilrea, the legendary coach who retired from that post at the end of last season, and to pose for a photo with Byrne.

Dupont, heading into his first full season behind the Gatineau bench, just wants a good tuneup with the Olympiques opening the QMJHL regular season next Friday at Baie-Comeau.

Good, not boring.

"It's going to be exciting. It's the first time I've experienced it. You hear about the history and the rivalry. It's a big thing," said Dupont. "More than anything, it's going to be like a home game on the road for both teams. That makes it even better. That will add to the pizzazz.

"You want physical clean play. That's what you are looking for and this is a great opportunity for that."

FIGHT NIGHT, 1975

It's also a great opportunity for fans on both sides of the Ottawa River to see the rivals face off. They played eight interleague games from 2000-02, but none since.

Kilrea recalled a fight-filled pre-season series in 1975 that resulted in three of his players being suspended for the second game.

"Jeff Geiger, Behn Wilson and Jeff Wilson were all suspended for an exhibition game after the fights on Friday. That was going to leave me short on Sunday when we played (Gatineau) again. So I called up the Nepean Raiders at 10:30 p.m. for an exhibition game on Saturday, so I'd have those guys back for Sunday," said Kilrea with a laugh.

While the Olympiques have cut their roster to 25 players, the 67's have decisions to make, even though they don't open the OHL regular season until Sept. 18 at Sault. Ste. Marie. Six 67's will be at NHL camp by Sunday.

It was to be seven, but winger Corey Cowick, a sixth-round pick of the Senators, suffered a shoulder injury in the 67's first pre-season game last Sunday at Kingston.

Cowick will meet with Ottawa doctors today to determine if he'll have surgery.

"We're hoping to get that update (today)," said Byrne.

BRUCE.GARRIOCH@SUNMEDIA.CA

T

cross-border battle

will begin tonight

While it won't mean anything in the standings and isn't about much more than bragging rights, the Ottawa 67's will face off against the Gatineau Olympiques at 7:30 pm. in the first of a back-to-back exhibition series that will shift the local hockey season into high gear.

But, if people are going to line up at the box office just because they think this might turn into fisticuffs, may want to think again. With stiff penalties in place for dropping the gloves, both sides have discussed the possibility and want to make sure nothing gets stupid.

"We want competitive games. We hope that it's not old-style, old-school hockey. We hope that it's hard-hitting and quick and that both teams are playing to get ready for their seasons," said 67's coach Chris Byrne, who will make his debut behind the bench in Ottawa.

The Olympiques, who will host Game 2 of the series Sunday at the Robert Guertin Arena, are on the same page as the 67's. Coach Jerome Dupont dropped by the Ottawa office yesterday to say hello to 67's GM Brian Kilrea and to pose for a photo with Byrne.

These two teams haven't faced off very often. They did play eight home-and-home games from 2000-02, but haven't played since. Kilrea told a story about an exhibition series in 1975 that resulted in three of his players being suspended for the second game.

"Jeff Geiger, Behn Wilson and Jeff Wilson were all suspended for an exhibition game after the fights on Friday. That was going to leave me short on Sunday when we played (Gatineau) again. So I called up the Nepean Raiders at 10:30 p.m. for an exhibition game on Saturday so I'd have those guys back for Sunday," said Kilrea with a laugh.

Dupont just wants a good tuneup with the Olympiques getting ready to open the QMJHL season next Friday.

"It's going to be exciting. It's the first time I've experienced. You hear about the history and the rivalry. It's a big thing," said Dupont. "More than anything, it's going to be like a home game on the road for both teams. That makes it even better. That will add to the pizzazz.

"You want physical clean play. That's what you are looking for and this is a great opportunity for that."

While the Olympiques have cut down to their roster with 25 players in camp, the 67's have decisions to make. They don't open the OHL season until Sept. 18th on the road in Sault. Ste. Marie. By the time Game 2 is played Sunday, Ottawa will have six players at NHL camps.

Yes, it was supposed to be seven, but winger Corey Cowick, a sixth-round pick of the Senators, suffered a shoulder injury in the club's first exhibtion game last Sunday and will meet with Ottawa doctors today to determine if he's going to have surgery.

"We're hoping to get that update (today)," said Byrne.


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