It's back to reality

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

TRURO, N.S. -- After celebrating Hockeyville, many Senator hopefuls will turn their attention to Making the Cut.

Now that the feel-good party at the cozy Colchester Legion Stadium is over, Senators GM John Muckler and coach Bryan Murray will swing the axe today.

After a 7-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in front of packed house of more than 1,900, the Senators must now turn their attention to the fact they have 46 players in camp -- far too many with the start of the regular season just eight days away.

Playing in a game awarded to this small community for the efforts of nearby Salmon River for winning the Kraft/CBC Hockeyville television series, the two sides put on a good show.

Jason Spezza scored twice for the Senators while Dany Heatley chipped in with one, but it was Chris Higgins and Guillaume Latendresse who led the Habs to their first exhibition win in five attempts.

Ottawa goalie Martin Gerber made the start and left after allowing goals to Higgins and Andrei Kostitsyn on 31 shots through 40 minutes. If it hadn't been for his 20 saves in the second period, things would have been ugly.

Things did turn ugly for backup Jeff Glass, who allowed five Montreal goals in the third period.

"I wish we would have played better ... especially in the third period," said Murray. "There was a lot of excitement in the building and it would have been nice to have put on good show."

Today, the Senators would like to cut down to 15 forwards, eight defencemen and two goalies. Top prospects Nick Foligno and Cody Bass will be sent back to junior while the rest of the cuts will likely open camp tomorrow with Binghamton of the AHL.

The proposed cuts might not be possible on the blue line because Wade Redden (groin), Joe Corvo (broken foot) and Anton Volchenkov (broken fingertip) are all out.

"We're going to have to retain some players," said Muckler, who will meet with Murray and the rest of the coaching staff this morning before practice in Ottawa. "Well see how our injuries go. And as our (injured players) come back, then well assign more players to (the Baby Sens)."

It's expected forwards Denis Hamel, Josh Hennessy and Serge Payer will all be kept in Ottawa to compete for spots.

For 60 minutes last night, however, even the players who expect to be sent packing were able to put their futures aside and focus on having fun in what was a rare opportunity to play in a small town.

Winger Antoine Vermette, who grew up outside Quebec City in Charny, said he wouldn't have missed this for the world.

"I'm really excited to (have played)," said Vermette. "I came from a small town and if we had an NHL game at our rink, it would be a really big deal."

Trying to mix it up for the fans, Murray had Spezza on a line with Brian McGrattan. They teamed up for the opening goal by Spezza at 7:32 of the first. The two were linemates for a brief stint with the OHL's Mississauga Ice Dogs.

"We've got undeniable chemistry," Spezza said with a smile.


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