Kia CHL Top-10 Spotlight: Ottawa 67’s

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It’s been a record-setting run for the Ottawa 67’s.

Currently riding a 16-game win streak – besting the high-water mark of 14 the franchise set twice previously – the 67’s are undefeated since November 16, a stretch which has seen the squad outscore the opposition by a 91-34 margin to improve to 29-6-0-0 on the season, good for 58 points, first place in the Ontario Hockey League, and number one in the latest Kia CHL Top-10 Rankings.

“We always go one game at a time, we always stay in the moment. That being said, congrats to our guys, this group of players, they deserve it,” said 67’s associate coach Mario Duhamel following Thursday’s 8-4 win over the Kingston Frontenacs that made it 15-straight wins. “They show up to the rink every day with a smile and a will to improve, always looking to get better as players but also as a team.”

Headlining the 67’s this season is Austrian-born centre Marco Rossi, a projected first-round selection in the coming NHL Draft who is currently riding a 17-game point streak in which he has amassed 43 points counting 21 goals and 22 assists. On the season, Rossi stands with an OHL-leading 69 points, four more than last year when he finished with 29 goals and 36 assists to rank first in points-per-game among all freshmen.

Rossi’s ability to provide consistent offensive contributions makes him a favourite to hear his name called early when the NHL Draft arrives in Montreal in June.

“He is equally adept at both creating and finishing scoring chances. He is an excellent skater who is solid on his skates and difficult to knock off the puck,” notes NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr. “He can beat defenders with speed or with an impressive set of moves.”

While Rossi leads the offensive charge for the 67’s, he is also joined up front by plenty of secondary scoring punch including overage left-wing Austen Keating, who sits second on the team with 54 points through 35 games, closely trailed by fellow veteran forward Joseph Garreffa who has registered 20 goals and 31 assists through 25 appearances.

Rossi and Garreffa, alongside second-year forward and 2020 NHL Draft hopeful Jack Quinn plus New Jersey Devils prospect Mitchell Hoelscher, make up a group of four players on the 67’s to have reached the 20-goal plateau this season, the most of any CHL club. The four put their offensive talents on display in Ottawa’s most recent contest as each got on the scoresheet in a 5-0 victory versus the Erie Otters that saw both Hoelscher and Rossi tally twice before adding an assist, while Quinn finished with a pair of helpers and Garreffa added one of his own.

The 67’s are also dangerous on the man advantage as seven skaters have recorded multiple power play markers this season, forming a dynamic unit that is cashing in on more than 30% of its opportunities to lead the entire OHL and rank second across the CHL.

There is also no shortage of offense when it comes to the blue line as 21-year-old rearguard Noel Hoefenmayer has tallied an astounding 50 points on the season counting 15 goals and 35 assists to lead all CHL defencemen. A consistent offensive threat throughout the 2019-20 campaign, Hoefenmayer has scored at least one point in eight of his past nine outings, while 13 times this season he has come up with a multi-point effort, including his first career hat-trick versus the Hamilton Bulldogs that also counted the overtime winner.

Joining Hoefenmayer on the top pairing is newly minted Devils prospect Kevin Bahl, a hulking blue-liner who is on pace for a career year offensively after notching 20 points through 28 games. Set to return to the lineup after helping Canada claim gold at the 2020 World Juniors, Bahl’s reintroduction will be another big boost for the thriving 67’s along with head coach Andre Tourigny who also returns with a World Junior gold.

While Ottawa leads the way with 167 goals on the season, the club also keeps it tight defensively in having allowed just 91 goals, the fewest in the OHL and a strong indication of a solid team play and continued domination in the blue paint courtesy of netminder Cedrick Andree.

Through 27 appearances this season, Andree has come away with a remarkable 21-5-0-0 showing alongside a 2.27 goals-against average and .921 save percentage that both rank first among goaltenders who have suited up in as many contests. Most recently, Andree put together a 27-save shutout performance against the Otters in which he was recognized as the game’s first star.

A knack for minimizing goals against combined with an ability to score at will makes the 67’s a dominant force in the OHL once again this season. The squad now looks to continue its winning ways in a busy three-game weekend that counts dates with the Guelph Storm, Peterborough Petes, and Owen Sound Attack.

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