67’s use big first period to fend off Frontenacs in preseason opener
With a slew of fresh faces in the lineup, the Ottawa 67’s ventured to Kingston for their first preseason game of the 2023-24 season, where they bested the Frontenacs 4-1.
Despite a strong start by the Fronts, the Barber Poles gradually settled into the game, and after Caden Kelly drew an early tripping penalty, they were able to cement their control on the opening period. Momentum swung, and the 67’s buzzed around the Kingston goal, before they caught a break, as a Derek Smyth shot surprised Mason Vaccari, opening the scoring.
Five minutes later, Tuomas Uronen, the 67’s first-round selection in the 2023 CHL Import Draft, introduced himself to the large gathering of 67’s fans behind the Kingston net, deceptively firing a shot through Vaccari’s five-hole. That wouldn’t be all. With under 10 seconds to go in the frame, Kelly found a streaking Nic Whitehead in the slot, who found twine, before celebrating his first goal wearing a barber pole uniform.
Up 3-0 heading into the second period, the 67’s put an emphasis on keeping the puck out of their own goal. Their plot was only foiled late in the stanza, when a shot from Ethan Weir deflected off a 67’s defender, and into the net.
Knowing Kingston was about to empty the bag of tricks in an attempt to rally, the 67’s hunkered down in their own zone even more. Collin MacKenzie, as he had been all afternoon, was outstanding, stopping all 11 shots turned his way in the final frame, putting his team in prime position to earn their first preseason win of the campaign.
Time ticked away, and the Frontenacs pulled the goalie in favour of an extra attacker. On the rush, Kelly had an opportunity for a shot, but unselfishly moved it to Charlie Hilton, who potted his first goal in an OHL uniform.
- Four new players (Uronen, Whitehead, Hilton, and Josh Brady) tallied at least one point in their first game with the 67’s.
- Derek Smyth led the way for the Barber Poles at a +3, and no 67’s player finished as a minus.
- Nic Whitehead had a strong showing in the faceoff dot, winning five of his eight opportunities.
- Brad Gardiner and Caden Kelly both had two helpers.
- Collin MacKenzie stopped 35 shots in his three periods of work.
Now 1-0 in their preseason schedule, the Barber Poles return to action on Wednesday night, when they travel to North Bay to take on the Battalion.