Ottawa 67’s eager to bring hockey back to the Glebe during home opener Sunday
You’d be hard pressed to find anyone more excited about the Ottawa 67’s home opener than goaltender Cedrick Andree.
The hometown Ottawa boy is set to return between the pipes in front of his home crowd this Sunday – and it will be especially poignant after such an emotional and heartbreaking season end that saw the 67’s fall in the OHL Finals.
“That’s the fun part about being from Ottawa, you have friends, family coming to games,” said Andree. “You know everyone in the crowd.”
It will be tough for the 67’s to top last year, as the team broke a franchise record with 50 wins and went a perfect 14-0 in the playoffs before losing four straight to the Guelph Storm. Anything short of an OHL championship this year will be disappointing, not for fans, but for the players, says Andree.
“Once you’ve tasted winning, it makes you want it a lot more,” he says.
“We won a lot last year and I feel like if we lose, guys are going to be crushed.”
Andree had an impressive outing last year, posting an incredible 34-5-2 record with a .910 save percentage. The 67’s are off to a good start so far, winning both their road games against Guelph and Oshawa, but although they are a perfect 2-0 to start the season, head coach André Tourigny says there’s still a lot of work to do.
““The result has been perfect, I’m not sure we have been perfect,” he laughed, following Wednesday’s 67’s practice.
“We had to work extremely hard in those two wins. But we got better every period. We have to just work to continue to get better every day.”
Tourigny knows how tough it will be to follow last year’s banner year, but he’s trying not to think about it too much. It will be his challenge to rally the team around the task at hand – not at what could have been last season.
“The only thing we can do is be good today,” he adds.
“Then we will try to be good tomorrow and we will go from there and hopefully we will get ready for the long run. We don’t want to look too far ahead, because we will lose our focus and we will forget what’s most important and what’s most important is now.”
While the team lost a few studs to the NHL this year, including goaltender Mikey DiPietro, Tye Felhaber, Sasha Chmelevski and Lucas Chiodo, their talented defensive corps remains intact. This was a defense that was considered tops in the OHL last year, surrendering just a measly 183 goals. Led by veteran Merrick Rippon, the team should again limit scoring opportunities this year.
“We have a pretty big D corps, pretty steady. We have the same guys all last year on the defensive side and we’ve got (Cedric Andree) in nets, so I think that is going to help us this year,” said Rippon.
“It’s going to help our young forwards adjust to the game and we have some really good role models and leaders up front too.”
Sunday’s home opener vs. Peterborough launches what promises to be an epic season featuring a flurry of in-game experiences you won’t want to miss. Starting this, and every Sunday, are the post game free skates where you can take to the ice with your own blades. This year also boasts 10 awesome theme games, including a F-R-I-E-N-D-S Night, the annual Halloween game, an Ugly Christmas Sweater Game and a Britney Spears Appreciation Night.
It all starts Sunday at 2 p.m. Get your tickets here. #NOQUIT