Tye Felhaber tied the game with 34 seconds remaining and then scored the winner just 20 seconds into overtime as the Ottawa 67’s completed a sweep of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference final against the Oshawa Generals with a 2-1 win, Wednesday night (Apr. 24), at Tribute Communities Centre.
The 67’s, who remain undefeated after sweeping all three conference playoff rounds, will play for the J. Ross Robertson Cup for the first time since 2005. Ottawa will meet the winner of the Western Conference final between the Saginaw Spirit and Guelph Storm. The Spirit currently lead that series, 3-1, and can wrap it up back in Saginaw on Friday (Apr. 26).
Fighting for their playoff lives, the Generals got a goal from rookie Ty Tullio just 1:20 into the second period and backed by another outstanding effort in goal by Kyle Keyser appeared as though they might extend the series to five games.
But Felhaber and the 67’s would squash those hopes when they took advantage of a late two-man advantage to pull out their 12th-straight playoff win.
With goalie Michael DiPietro pulled for a third extra attacker, Sasha Chmelevski slid the puck to Felhaber at the top of the left faceoff circle and the Dallas Stars prospect wired a rising shot over the left shoulder of Keyser to tie it.
Felhaber completed the come back with Ottawa still on the power play in overtime when he wristed a shot from the right faceoff circle over the right shoulder of Keyser.
“I think we’re a very opportunistic team,” said Felhaber, who finished the regular season with 59 goals “We see an opportunity, we step up to the occasion and always rise to it. A big thing with our team is even if we’re down, or whatever the score is, there’s no quit in our locker room.”
“It’s nice tonight, but the job is not done yet,” added the overager.
It was a tough way to end the season for a Generals team that finished third in the conference with a 44-20-4 record and upset the Niagara IceDogs in the second round.
“It’s obviously a very disappointing ending,” said head coach Greg Walters, minutes after addressing his team in an emotional Generals dressing room. “It’s a tough way to go out, but (the guys) played hard to the last whistle, led by our captain (Kyle MacLean), and I’m proud of the way we competed.”
The Generals traded away captain Sam Studnicka and overage defenceman Matt Brassard at the OHL trade deadline back in January, but added overagers Brandon Saigeon and Nicholas Mattinen, along with forward Brett Neumann from Kingston to finish strong.
“The season as a whole, I was very proud of the guys,” said MacLean, who was named captain after Studnicka was dealt. “We had a great season and I was just very happy, proud to be a part of it, as well to play with those guys, to play with Wally. I tried to tell our guys to hold our heads high, because we did have a good year and we accomplished a lot.
“Obviously, a tough end. It’s fresh right now looking back on it, but overall I was proud to be a part of everything.”
photo: Tye Felhaber tied the game in the last minute and then scored the winner just 20 seconds into overtime to lead the Ottawa 67’s to a 2-1 win over the Oshawa Generals in OHL third-round playoff action, Apr. 24, at the Tribute Communities Centre. Terry Wilson/OHL Images