Well on their way to their first East Division title since 2012, the Ottawa 67’s are the OHL’s first 40-game winners having vanquished 11 of their last 12 opponents.
With two solid goaltenders, great offensive chemistry and a blue line developed from within, Ottawa has swiftly ascended the Eastern Conference standings after finishing eighth ahead of a first round exit against the OHL champion Hamilton Bulldogs last spring.
“Last year we were the youngest team in the league, so we knew we would have growth and we knew we would be better this year, but we did not expect to be that (in first place),” 67’s head coach André Tourigny told The Hamilton Spectator’s Teri Pecoskie of how his club has exceeded expectations.
“The chemistry in the locker-room is really special,” he added, and outside the rink, “the boys have fun.”
Making headlines this week, 67’s goaltender Michael DiPietro made his NHL debut in an emergency call-up with the Vancouver Canucks, but in his absence former 12th round pick Cedrick Andree has continued to pile up the wins, earning two more this past weekend for a league-leading 30 on the campaign. Andree became the fourth goaltender in the 52-year history of the 67’s to hit the mark joining Jim Ralph, Levente Szuper and Petr Mrazek.
Success in the crease is just the beginning in the nation’s capital. The 67’s also feature the OHL’s leading scorer in overage winger Tye Felhaber.
Rumoured to have agreed to terms on an NHL contract with the Dallas Stars, Felhaber leads the OHL scoring race with 93 points (53-40–93) over 54 games. His 53 goals are the most by a 67’s player since Tyler Toffoli lit the lamp 57 times during the 2010-11 season.
Ottawa’s top trio of Felhaber alongside 2020 NHL Draft prospect Marco Rossi and OHL assist leader Austen Keating (55) has been dominant since they first joined forces in early October.
“We have that linemate chemistry where Austen is the passer, Marco’s the all-round guy and I’m more of the shooter and scorer,” said Felhaber, who trained alongside Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux this past off-season. “They both do a really good job looking for me.”
The deadline additions of overage veterans Kyle Maksimovich (31-42–73) and Lucas Chiodo (25-42–67) have transformed Ottawa’s offence into a multi-pronged attack as San Jose Sharks prospect Sasha Chmelevski (21-34–55) and gritty wingers Kody Clark (14-24–38) and Mitchell Hoelscher (10-24–34) give Tourigny a plethora of options up front.
On the back end, Arizona Coyotes prospects Noel Hoefenmayer (13-38–51) and 6-foot-6 shutdown presence Kevin Bahl (4-21–25) log big minutes, carrying the load alongside an underrated but dependable core consisting of Merrick Rippon (4-12–16), Lucas Peric (3-12–15), Hudson Wilson (2-13–15) and Nikita Okhotyuk (1-11–12).
Interestingly, neither Ottawa’s power play (9th) or penalty kill (15th) have been dominant units this season and the 67’s are currently the most penalized team in the OHL. Five-on-five excellence and a commanding 24-2-0-1 record with last change on home ice have been central to team’s success this season.
Having already clinched a spot in the 2019 OHL Playoffs, the 67’s return home for a Family Day long weekend, taking on Hamilton, Kitchener and North Bay.
The KIA CHL Top 10 Spotlight takes a closer look at one team from the weekly KIA CHL Top 10 Rankings.
Past KIA CHL Top 10 Spotlight editions:
Sept. 26, 2018 – Halifax Mooseheads
Oct. 4, 2018 – London Knights
Oct. 11, 2018 – Victoria Royals
Oct. 18, 2018 – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Oct. 25, 2018 – Prince Albert Raiders
Nov. 1, 2018 – Ottawa 67’s
Nov. 8, 2018 – Moncton Wildcats
Nov. 15, 2018 – Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Nov. 22, 2018 – Red Deer Rebels
Nov. 29, 2018 – Drummondville Voltigeurs
Dec. 6, 2018 – Vancouver Giants
Dec. 12, 2018 – Everett Silvertips
Dec. 20, 2018 – Niagara IceDogs
Jan. 3, 2019 – Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Jan. 10, 2019 – Saginaw Spirit
Jan. 17, 2019 – Portland Winterhawks
Jan. 25, 2019 – Rimouski Océanic
Jan. 31, 2019 – Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Feb. 6, 2019 – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies