Tough Week Ahead for the ’67’s

By Scott Petersen
In sports, the schedule is often your best friend one week and your nemesis the next.

For the Ottawa 67’s, they’ve already experienced the friendly aspect with a well-spaced schedule of games while the team tried to gel as a unit. The real test in just on the horizon though, with a total of four games this week and three of those on consecutive days.

“We’ve had a pretty light schedule, as far as workload is concerned,” says defenceman Carter Trevisani. “This is really kicking our season off and it’s going to be tough.”

The 67’s will travel to Kingston to face the Frontenacs on Tuesday and then have a short break until the busy weekend. Friday is a home game against the Sarnia Sting, and then the 67’s will hit the road again to play the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors on Saturday and Don Cherry’s Mississauga Ice Dogs on Sunday.

Though the Sarnia Sting are the only opponent playing above .500 hockey this season, 67’s coach Brian Kilrea warns against taking any of the teams lightly.

“You don’t look at a team as being weak or good or bad… if you don’t come ready to play, it’s not going to matter,” says Kilrea. “You have to play well to get your points.”

Though the Frontenacs are the team the 67’s will be preparing for first, captain Zenon Konopka says the busy weekend is in the back of everyone’s mind.

“All the guys have been working out hard at the gym and this is why we do it,” he says. “These three game weekends really push your body, but we’re ready for it.

“It all comes down to heart and determination in the second or third game. Everyone is tired, but you just have to work through it.”

Trevisani, one of the veteran players on the young 67’s squad, has also been through it before and knows the kind of toll a three game weekend can take on your body and how it can affect your performance.

“That’s the toughest thing, when you do have a three game weekend, is playing at the top of your game for all three games,” he says. “It’s (mentally exhausting) and hopefully you’ve prepared yourself properly for it.

“By the time you get back, you’re drained,” he adds. “You lose a lot of fluids and you’re dehydrated. It takes a day or two just to get back to normal again.”

The 67’s will be heading into the week without the services of a couple key players. Konopka will miss Tuesday’s game versus the Frontenacs serving out the last game of a suspension, while leading goal scorer Adam Chapman (wrist) and rookies Corey Locke (shoulder) and Juroslav Sklenar (homesickness) will also be missed due to an assortment of injuries or ailments.

To combat the injury bug, Kilrea recently added rookie left winger Jeremy Akeson to the lineup in a deal with the London Knights for a 4th round draft choice in 2002.

“He looked pretty good out there and apparently he’s pretty tough and can drop the gloves,” says Trevisani about Akeson, who scored in his first game with the club.

A quick look at the standings will show the 67’s sitting near the bottom of the OHL in points. However, this is just an example of how stats can sometimes be deceiving. What the standings don’t say is that this team is among the hottest in the league, unbeaten in their past five games to bring their record to 4-2-1.

The 67’s have been setting them up and knocking them down with authority since starting off their season with two losses on the road. There is even a possibility they could ride this current hot streak to sit among the league leaders by the end of the week.

“Everything’s clicking right now and everyone’s jumping on the bus and hopefully we can ride it for a long time,” says Konopka.