Wins making life better for Byrne

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

The once sliding 67's are on a roll.

After struggling through the first quarter of the season, the 67's will be looking to win their fourth straight game when the Plymouth Whalers (13-9) invade Urbandale Centre tonight (7:30 p.m.)

A victory would not only bring coach Chris Byrne’s team to within one game of the .500 mark at 9-10-3-2, but also pull the 67’s into second place in the East Division, which Kingston leads with a pedestrian 12-11-0-2 record.

“We knew it would be tough with some of the guys we had out,” said Byrne, who was without blue-line stalwarts Julien Demers for 12 games and Tyler Cuma for seven. “Having those guys back has given us more strength on the blue line. We’re better at getting the puck out of our zone and getting it at the other team’s net. We’re playing a better defensive game overall.”

The 67’s, who dropped a 3-2 decision to the Whalers in Plymouth Oct. 16, face a second tough test at home this weekend when the Midwest Division-leading Kitchener Rangers (15-4) are in town Sunday afternoon. Ottawa is likely to be without winger Jon Carnevale and defenceman Brian Birkhoff, as both are considered day-to-day with minor injuries.

Meanwhile, rookie goalie Petr Mrazek suffered a lower-body injury in Wednesday’s 3-2 road shootout win in Belleville, but Byrne was hopeful he could back up Chris Perugini tonight.

“I enjoy my job every day,” Byrne said when asked how much nicer it is to go to work since his club has lifted itself out of last place. “The wins and losses are going to happen ... we enjoy winning and getting ready for the next game.”

Ice chips

Ottawa’s leading scorer Ryan Martindale (11 goals, 19 assists) was seventh among OHL skaters in Central Scouting Bureau’s preliminary rankings earlier this week. F Tyler Toffoli was ranked 14th and F Dalton Smith was 20th ... The 67’s have sent RW/C Dylan Anderson to the CJHL’s Gloucester Rangers to get some playing time. Anderson, an 18-year-old Greely native, has no points in 15 games with Ottawa ... Rookie Ottawa D Cody Ceci will represent Team Ontario at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge being held in Timmins during the Christmas holidays ... Cuma wore an ‘A’ for Team OHL in Game 3 of its Super Series against the Russian Selects last night in Barrie.


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