Toffoli steps up his game

DON BRENNAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:25 AM ET

When Tyler Toffoli saw the Central Scouting Bureau's preliminary rankings released last Wednesday, he was disappointed.

Over the weekend, he tried to do something about it.

The 17-year-old forward had two goals and two assists to lead the 67’s to a 6-3 victory over the Kitchener Rangers at Urbandale Centre yesterday afternoon. The four-point performance came on the heels of Toffoli’s goal and assist in Friday’s 4-3 win over the Plymouth Whalers, giving the Scarborough native 23 points (11 goals) in 22 games.

“I knew that I had a rough start to the year, so I knew I was going to drop a little bit,” said Toffoli, who was ranked 14th among OHL skaters. “I knew I had to pick up my game and I think this weekend, I really pulled it off.

“Hopefully, the next time the rankings come out I’m higher up because I know I want to go as high as I can.”

The win, in front of 9,552 fans, was the fifth in a row for the 67’s, and was especially impressive in that it was against a team that had only lost four times in regulation in its first 23 games.

It also improved the 67’s record to 10-10-3-2 and moved them to within one point of the East Division co-leading first Peterborough Petes and Kingston Frontenacs. Ottawa has a game in hand on Peterborough and two in hand on Kingston.

Thomas Nesbitt and Dalton Smith also scored two each for the 67’s. Cody Lindsay had three assists.

Toffoli, however, was the star of this day.

“I thought he was electric,” said coach Chris Byrne. “He was really dynamic with the puck, he worked hard, he backchecked hard, he played well both ways today. It was a very good game for him.”

Nesbitt, who now has a team-leading 13 goals, scored his first on a 2-on-1 with Ottawa short-handed just past the six-minute mark. Smith upped the lead early in the second, poking in a loose puck after Toffoli had stripped it from a Kitchener defender behind the visitors’ net. Nesbitt made it 3-0 on the power play three minutes later, then Toffoli followed with a goal 33 seconds after that and one more before the 12-minute mark to give the 67’s a comfortable lead going into the third.

Chris Perugini made 21 saves for the win, while the 67’s directed 34 shots at the Kitchener tandem of Brandon Maxwell and Mavric Parks.

“We asked them to get the puck deep and put a great forecheck on, and the guys did that,” said Byrne. “They were very physical finishing checks, and played well as a team today.

“A huge day for us getting two points, and the fact that we beat a pretty good hockey team gives it a little bit extra.”

The 67’s will look to continue their streak against the Oshawa Generals at Urbandale Centre Friday.

“Our whole team’s confidence is really high,” said Toffoli. “We’re going hard to the net, we’re working hard in the corners ... for all of us, we’re putting up the points and it’s going well so far.”


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