For the past three years, the 67’s have rudely spoiled Chris Carrozzi’s homecomings.
Yesterday, they gave him a day off.
Carrozzi, a product of the Nepean minor hockey system, needed to make just 22 generally easy saves as Eugene Melnyk’s Mississauga St. Michael Majors brought the high-flying 67’s back to earth with a 4-0 whitewashing at Urbandale Centre.
A crowd of 6,403 watched the 67’s — playing their first game as East Division leaders — behave like they had completely forgotten what it took to get to the top.
“We started the day wondering how good we are, and now we know we’ve got lots to work on,” said coach Chris Byrne, whose 14-12-3-2 team entered the day having won three in a row and nine of its past 10. “That’s a great measuring stick for us to figure out we need to do everything better. We’ve improved a lot in the last month or six weeks, but we still have a ways to go to compete with the top teams in the league.
“You’re playing a team that’s at a different level than a lot of teams in the league. You have to play better. They worked harder, they skated faster. They were just a better team today.”
“They’re a very good defensive team,” added Byrne. “We knew that coming in. We needed to find a way to get pucks at the net. We didn’t.”
While the Barrie Colts are the class of the Eastern Conference, the Majors are next in line with a 21-6-2 record. They have allowed a league-low 69 goals against, with Carrozzi (a sixth-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers) and J.P. Anderson (a top prospect for the 2010 NHL draft) reaping the benefits.
Family and friends
But playing at home in front of family and friends has not been a great experience for Carrozzi.
“It’s been a struggle for me the past couple of seasons,” said the OHL’s goaltender of the month for October after collecting his third shutout and improving his record to 11-2-2, his save percentage to .920 and his league-leading GAA to 2.14. “It’s my fourth year and my fourth time playing here, and I think it’s the first time I didn’t let in five goals, I’m pretty sure.
“We shut them down. We scored some goals, (which) we were struggling for that last game. We really got to the goalie here.”
That would be Chris Perugini, who stopped 27 shots for his own shutout as the 67’s started the weekend off with a 2-0 win over Owen Sound on Friday. Against the Majors, Perugini kicked aside all 12 shots he faced in the first period, then gave up three goals in a 5:26 span of the second. The third, by Woodlawn’s Riley Brace, came just 54 seconds after Devante Smith-Pelly had put the Majors up 2-0, and it was enough to prompt a move out of Byrne.
He sent Petr Mrazek in for Perugini, who had stopped 15-of-18 before getting the hook.
“Sometimes they go in and sometimes it’s not your day,” said Byrne.