67's run over rival Bulls

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

If familiarity breeds contempt, then the 67’s and Belleville Bulls must have a healthy hate on for one another by now.

The fifth of eight meetings between the division rivals, and the fourth in a three-week span went the 67’s way in a decisive 5-1 victory on Sunday in front of 5,451 at the Rona Centre.

Ottawa is now 4-1 against the Bulls this season after going 7-0-1 against them last season.

“Obviously it’s a good rivalry,” said captain Thomas Nesbitt, who, along with fellow overager Cody Lindsay, celebrated his 298th career game with the 67’s, becoming the franchise’s all-time leaders in games played.

“We’re used to seeing (Belleville) and they’re used to seeing us, so we’re going to get under each other’s skin,” said Nesbitt, who was tossed from the game following a late third-period scrap with Luke Judson, after the Bulls captain took a run at defenceman Marc Zanetti with the score already well out of hand.

“We don’t like guys running around,” said Nesbitt. “He’s an honourable player and he accepted the challenge (to fight). He would’ve done the same thing if one of our guys ran one of their guys.”

Ex-Bull Julian Luciani, who joined the 67’s last month, came within an assist of a Gordie Howe hat trick in the first period.

After Ryan Martindale opened the scoring at 4:34, Luciani dropped the gloves on the ensuing faceoff with his former teammate, defenceman Branden Morris, then scored his second of the season on a point shot that beat Tyson Teichmann for a 3-0 lead.

Luciani, who got a few pats on the back from his old buddies in the hallway after the game, insisted any ill will was limited to the ice.

“It’s just a game. (Morris and I) gave each other a little pat and said ‘Good fight’ afterwards,” said Luciani. “Last game he was pushing around some of our rookies, and I’m a guy who likes to stand up for my team.

“I think any player would say he likes to be on the winning side of a game, but especially against your old team, it just makes it that much sweeter.”

Ottawa’s top line of Martindale, playing his second game after missing three with an ankle injury, along with Shane Prince and Tyler Toffoli, was dominant, with at least one member having a hand in each of the first four goals.

The line finished a combined plus-6 with 10 points.

Prince led the way with a goal and three assists, his fifth four-point game of the season.

Martindale scored the first two goals and added an assist on Luciani’s tally, and Toffoli sprung Prince on a second-period two-on-one.

Nicholas Foglia scored on a third-period power play, while Andy Bathgate was the only Belleville shooter to beat 67’s goaltender Petr Mrazek.

“It’s definitely a great feeling and a great night personally, but our line has been playing so well lately,” said Prince.

It looks as if the line will remain intact for the foreseeable future, as each member of the unit was left off the invite list for the world junior championship — Martindale and Toffoli for Canada, and Prince a surprise omission from the selection camp of the defending champion Americans.

“I was disappointed, but that’s over and done with now and my focus is here with the 67’s,” said Prince. “I can say for sure (Toffoli and Martindale) were disappointed, but now me, Marty and Toff are all here to help out with the team and I know we can go far.”

aedan.helmer@sunmedia.ca


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