Nifty Cuma shootout goal leads 67's

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

There wasn't much pretty about the 67's shootout win over the Niagara IceDogs yesterday.

But when a team puts back-to-back wins together for the first time this season, you take the beauty where you can find it.

“I said to our guys, the best things about this game were we got to see (goalie) Chris Perugini play a great game and we got two points. It probably stops there after those two points,” said 67’s coach Chris Byrne after the 2-1 win at the Urbandale Centre.

Perugini made 36 stops through regulation and overtime and then turned back all six IceDogs shooters in the shootout in front of a crowd of 8,211 to improve the 67’s record to 7-10-3-2.

The only guy to score in the shootout was 67’s defenceman Tyler Cuma, who executed a nice Peter Forsberg-type move, tucking the puck one-handed behind Niagara goaltender Mark Visentin for the win.

It’s a move he’s worked on in practice, but didn’t decide to use until the last moment.

“I’ve got a couple of moves up my sleeve,” said Cuma. “A lot of the guys were trying to deke. I wanted to go blocker, but he spreads out pretty well. I’ve got a nice, long reach and I went to the backhand and put it in with one hand.”

For most of the game, it looked like Thomas Nesbitt’s goal, which had given the 67’s a 1-0 lead just past the five-minute mark of the game, would be enough.

The IceDogs (now 8-12-2-2) have had their share of struggles, too — as have most of the teams in the Eastern Conference — and they were playing a cautious road game yesterday.

But they broke through to tie it — ending Perugini’s bid for a second straight shutout — on the power play at 9:54 of the third period.

Ottawa’s Andrew Merrett had a chance to clear the puck along the left-wing boards, but he almost whiffed his spinning attempt at a clearance and instead put the puck on a tee for Niagara’s Reggie Traccitto. He stepped into a slapper from the point that ripped over Perugini’s shoulder.

The IceDogs were on the power play after Ryan Martindale had been penalized for delay of game.

But Cuma and Perugini combined to deliver the win which, in the mediocre East (that’s being kind) this season, is enough to vault them from last place in the conference up to almost middle of the pack.

“It was good to see the guys stick with it. The bounces were not going our way, but Perugini played fantastic, especially in the shootout,” said Cuma.

“We’re starting to play against the guys in our conference and you need the points to leapfrog them. You can see how key every win is.”

The 67’s were coming off a 7-0 win over the Sarnia Sting Friday night and Byrne was disappointed the club didn’t pick up where it had left off.

“(The IceDogs) played a good road game and trapped a lot, keeping the puck in front of them. It was not going to be a fun day going through the neutral zone. Some guys, like (forward) Dalton Smith wanted to do that, but other guys didn’t want to put in the work (yesterday).

“We had two or three guys who played well and after that, we needed better efforts from everybody else.”

The 67’s will get a chance to make another move on a divisional opponent when they visit the Belleville Bulls Wednesday night.

The 67’s next home game is Friday against Plymouth.


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