67's can't weather Storm

AEDAN HELMER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:02 PM ET

The Ottawa 67’s gave up two goals in the final 30 seconds and watched a third-period lead evaporate, dropping a 4-3 heartbreaker to the Guelph Storm Sunday at the Rona Centre.

The 67’s game plan came unglued with a steady stream to the penalty box after captain Thomas Nesbitt scored early in the third to give Ottawa a 3-1 cushion.

But with defencemen Cody Ceci and Marc Zanetti both serving penalties, handing the Storm a 40-second two-man advantage, Guelph captain Taylor Beck wired a one-timer past a screened goalie Petr Mrazek to draw the Storm within one.

Beck struck again at 19:29 on a pretty setup from former 67 Michael Latta, who added insult to injury by setting up a pair of goals after knocking 67’s speedster Shane Prince out of the game with a hard crunch to the head along the glass.

“We pressured them most of the game and we capitalized when we needed to. We could have had some goals early on, but hard work pays off,” said Latta, who spent parts of two seasons in 67’s colours before the mid-season 2008 trade that brought Anthony Nigro and Travis Gibbons to Ottawa. Latta scored a hat trick in the first meeting between teams earlier this season (a 6-4 Storm win on Nov. 7 in Guelph), and added a pair of assists Sunday.

“I had a great time playing here,” said Latta, who had his own small cheering section with his old billets and a handful of friends in attendance.

If fans were upset with Beck’s game-tying goal — with 6,569 armchair referees still screaming for a penalty after Nicholas Foglia was tripped at centre ice with the Guelph net empty 100 feet away — they weren’t any happier after Cody McNaughton, a Petawawa native, completed the comeback with an unassisted goal with 11 seconds left on the clock.

“We can’t worry about what they do or don’t call, we just have to work hard with what’s out there,” said 67’s coach Chris Byrne.

“We took some penalties that you just can’t take. We take dumb penalties and wear ourselves out killing them or get scored on and lose our composure at the end of games, so we’re going to have to do a much better job of finishing games.”

No one felt worse after the loss than Prince, who, after a whirlwind week that saw him playing in the CHL’s top prospects game, was forced to follow the game from the trainer’s room and will now head to the clinic Monday for tests.

“It was a solid crunch, I felt pain right away. We’ll see how bad it is (Monday),” said Prince, second on the 67’s with 76 points.

“(It felt) terrible, especially in a game like that when things didn’t go so well at the end. I’d love to be out there and help the team and try to get the win, but unfortunately I couldn’t.”

The teams traded goals in the opening period, with Cody Lindsay opening the scoring with his 19th of the season, a wraparound that bounced in off the skate of Storm defenceman Matt Finn at 14:19 of the first.

After Guelph tied it, Marc Zanetti put Ottawa ahead.

The win salvaged a busy Eastern road swing for the Storm, who won Friday in Kingston but dropped an ugly 5-2 decision to the Belleville Bulls Saturday.

“We’re definitely happy to get through it,” said Beck. “It was definitely the biggest win of the year for the Guelph Storm so far, and especially coming off the (Belleville game), which was probably our worst effort of the year.”


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