67's get back on track with 3-0 shutout

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:34 PM ET

OTTAWA - The 67’s got back to their winning ways, taking a 3-0 decision over the West-leading Saginaw Spirit as they opened a five-game homestand in front of 7,347 at the Rona Centre on Friday night.

The 67’s played like a team desperate to restore the confidence GM Brian Kilrea showed in the roster by standing pat at the Jan. 10 trade deadline, and to get back on track after dropping three straight games to league powerhouses Windsor, Oshawa and Mississauga, who all loaded up at the deadline.

But it was the usual suspects who came up big for Ottawa, with Tyler Toffoli starting a new streak — after his league-high 25-game points streak came to an end in Mississauga on Sunday — scoring the opening, and game-winning goal, while Petr Mrazek made 36 saves for the shutout over the high-flying Spirit.

“After last week when we lost three in a row and 18 goals ended up in our net, it was so much better to (get back to defensive hockey) and the shutout is obviously nice for me,” said Mrazek, who posted his third goose egg of the season for Ottawa.

“We were talking before the game about their power play, and how they like to shoot a lot from the blue line, so the guys did a good job of covering (the points).”

Both the Spirit and 67’s — the OHL’s two best power-play units — went 0-7 with the man advantage.

But Ottawa coach Chris Byrne was reluctant to offer much praise for his troops, saying: “It’s one game.

“(Saginaw) played (Thursday night in Peterborough) and they travelled before the game, and that was the same sort of schedule we had last weekend, so the schedule can work for you and it can work against you.”

Byrne also downplayed the ugly skid and stressed the importance of maintaining an even keel.

“We didn’t go over the top when things were going real well for us, and at the same time we don’t get all excited when things don’t go well for us,” said Byrne. “We have another big game coming up (against the visiting Guelph Storm on Sunday).”

Shipley adds spark

While Toffoli and Mrazek once again found themselves among the game stars, it was rookie Ryan Shipley who provided a much-needed spark by dropping the Spirit’s Terry Trafford in a first-period fight.

Off the ensuing faceoff, and with only one sceond ticking off the game clock after the Shipley fight, a clean faceoff win by Ryan Martindale put the puck squarely on Toffoli’s stick and his 42nd goal of the season found the back of the net behind Mavric Parks.

It was all the offence the 67’s would need.

Another clean faceoff win, this time by Sean Monahan, gave the 16-year-old a clear look at the net and he roofed his seventh of the season over Parks six minutes later.

Monahan, playing his strongest hockey of the season on a line with centre Tyler Graovac and winger Ben Dubois, made a good play to spring his linemates on a two-on-one rush, with Graovac finishing the play and scoring 12 minutes into the second period.

aedan.helmer@sunmedia.ca


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