OTTAWA, ON – The Ottawa 67’s delivered yet another impressive third period, scoring four unanswered goals to turn things around on the visiting Oshawa Generals as defenceman Noel Hoefenmayer (6) scored the game winner with 5:07 remaining.
The Generals struck first and led 4-2 after two periods thanks to a pair of Brandon Saigeon (4, 5) goals inside the final two minutes of the second, but an energetic crowd of 6,522 rallied the 67’s to a 6-4 victory as they came out firing in the third.
“Today was unbelievable,” said Hoefenmayer of the support. “All playoffs it’s been a huge factor and kind of given us an extra boost when we needed it. Going into the third period they were loud, had our backs when we were down and I think that really helped us out a lot.”
Mitchell Hoelscher (5) crashed the net to bring Ottawa within a goal before Sasha Chmelevski (4) tied things up with 5:56 to go, setting the stage for Hoefenmayer’s point wrister that beat a screened Kyle Keyser through traffic.
“We showed a lot of character,” said 67’s head coach Andre Tourigny of the effort. “We came back but what I’m really proud of is the attitude of the boys on the bench. They stayed composed, stayed in the moment and never panicked. We played with intensity but we were under control the entire time.”
So many different hands were on deck that the big star of Ottawa’s Game 1 victory has yet to be mentioned. Rookie standout Marco Rossi (2, 3) scored twice late in the first period and later added a pair of assists for a four-point effort. Washington Capitals prospect Kody Clark finished things off, hitting the empty net for the 6-4 final.
“When guys don’t pay attention to detail at this time of the game against a team like Ottawa it’s going to be in the back of our net,” reflected Generals coach Greg Walters of the late lapse. “Our brains stopped working and we just lost coverage. Then we take an undisciplined penalty and it’s going to cost you.
“Our guys were ready to go,” he continued. “We did show that we can play with them. They’re an extremely good team and we put a game plan in place that for the most part we achieved but when the time mattered we had guys that went off-page.”
Brett Neumann (5) and Danil Antropov (3) joined Saigeon in the goal-scoring department while Keyser turned aside 31 shots as Oshawa was outdone 37-20 on the shot clock.
Michael DiPietro made 16 saves in the Ottawa crease as the 67’s remained undefeated in the playoffs, improving to 9-0.
Ottawa fans went home happy after seeing their first Eastern Conference Championship Series action since 2012. The nation’s capital will be buzzing again on Saturday as Game 2 is set for a 2:00pm start.
• GAME CENTRE
POST-GAME PRESS CONFERENCE: