Savage inspires 67's

DON BRENNAN, OTTAWA SUN

, Last Updated: 3:07 PM ET

For Sebastien Savage, it was the first visit back to a hockey arena since he left one with a broken neck 413 days earlier.

For his former OHL team, the appearance proved to be an inspiration.

A member of the 2001 Memorial Cup-winning Ottawa 67's, Savage became a paraplegic when he crashed into the boards in a university game Oct. 22, 2005.

He returned to the Civic Centre as the 67's alumnus of the night for a 5-0 victory over the Brampton Battalion, the team he finished his junior career with in 2002.

"It brings back a lot of memories," said Savage, who watched the game with his parents and his girlfriend from owner Jeff Hunt's box. "There's something about this building that gives you a rush of adrenaline."

STANDING OVATION

Savage, who will continue to focus on his rehab for the next year before continuing his studies, was given a standing ovation when introduced to the crowd.

"I was quite surprised, it's been like five years (since he played for the 67's)," said Savage. "It reminded me why they're the best fans in the CHL, getting a reception like that."

It would only be the beginning of the applause on this night.

Led by a four-point performance from both Logan Couture and Jamie McGinn, the 67's snapped a four-game losing streak in front of 7,188 fans.

Along with Couture's two goals and McGinn's single, Shea Kewin and Jakub Vojta also scored.

Brady Morrison made 33 saves -- including a penalty shot by Cody Hodgson -- for his second shutout of the season.

Coach Brian Kilrea said Savage's presence was a factor in the play of his team.

"Definitely, seeing him in the box and his family on the ice (for the ceremonial first faceoff) was a moment of pride for our kids," said Kilrea. "He's got the biggest battle right now, and our fellas know his story and how far he's come. I think they took a little from it.

"I KNOW I DID."

Ottawa took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission, on McGinn's team-leading 17th of the OHL season, Kewin's fifth and Couture's sixth.

Kewin, who was also involved in a third-period fight with Stephane Chabot, was slated to be a healthy scratch. He hurriedly suited up, joining the first period in progress, when winger Matt Lahey was held back, reportedly not feeling well. Lahey is a team-worst minus-20.

Couture added another on a breakaway early in the second and Vojta picked up his third of the season in the third.

OFF TO WORLDS

Vojta leaves today for the Czech Republic, where the defenceman will prepare to represent his country at the world junior Championship.

"We needed that win," said Kilrea. "We've been losing so much, everybody gets down. After tonight, some of the guys should be more confident."

The 67's next game is tomorrow (2 p.m.) when they take on the division-leading Belleville Bulls at the Civic Centre.


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