Travis Konecny and Jeremiah Addison, two top prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft have put together strong personal seasons, but their coach is trying to keep them focused on the team.
Despite two early goals on Friday night for Konecny, Ottawa 67’s head coach Jeff Brown wasn’t pleased with his team’s attitude.
The 67’s blew an early 3-0 lead, falling to the London Knights 6-5 in overtime.
“For 20 minutes we played pretty well and then everybody got their calculators out and thought it was point night,” Brown said following the game. “You can’t cheat, and I don’t know why we choose to do this, we played so smart and so hard the first period and then we just shut down.”
Friday wasn’t the first time the team has blown a late lead either, Brown said, pointing to a last minute goal they allowed against Windsor on Feb. 26 as another recent example.
“We started playing pond hockey, and we’re going to lose that,” Brown added. “If it was no check pond hockey out there they’d beat us by 20.”
Despite a late goal of his own to give the team another lead, Addison expects more from himself and his teammates.
“We’ve been going through this a few times, I mean it happened earlier last weekend as well in Windsor and then happened in Plymouth,” he said. “It keeps happening so we have to learn to shut it down, especially in the last few minutes and finish games.”
Brown said he thinks his team is focused too much on the individual or their statistics.
“Our guys apparently think that they’re better than they are and that’s what happens,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s unbelievable to me how at that stage, all you have to do is be on the defensive side but we choose to cheat.”
Konecny, the team’s captain, attributed part of the loss to bad luck after a referee got in the way of a puck that looked to be headed towards the empty net in the dying seconds before London tied it up. His coach disagreed.
“We’ve got guys concerned more about getting a goal and a freebie at the end into the empty net instead of playing defense,” Brown said.
Still, Konecny said he knows the little mistakes and breakdowns are preventable.
Come playoff time, Brown is unsure of the team’s commitment.
“We have no chance come playoff time if this is what’s going to happen, we might as well just pack it in and move on to next year because unless the guys buy in to one another and play for one another, we have no chance,” he said.
“We’re not good enough, we’re not talented enough to get away with that kind of stuff, we have to play pretty perfect hockey to have a chance,” he added.
Addison hoped the team could turn their play around with Saturday and Sunday games to follow against Niagara and Mississauga. They lost both by a combined score of 11-5.
My scouting reports:
Travis Konecny, Ottawa 67’s:
The top selection in the OHL draft and rookie of the year turned heads at Ivan Hlinka before battling injuries to start his draft year .. served as captain for Canada and Ottawa for a reason .. not afraid to take a hit to make a play, often invites contact despite being undersized .. has had some concussion scares but didn’t miss significant time .. very elusive player with great hands in tight .. likes to beat the goalie laterally .. always has his head up with the puck and likes to find forwards cross ice in the offensive zone .. turned it on after a slow first quarter to the year .. quick release with a heavy snapshot due .. keeps his feet moving in the offensive zone .. great passer off his backhand .. one of the best lateral movers off the rush in the draft class .. when his minutes could afford it in Ottawa he was an effective penalty killer .. doesn’t lack strength but a high stance in his stride can leave him off balance .. plays the point or off-wing on the powerplay .. does a good job of avoiding checks when skating hard down the wing, but can take punishment going to the net .. likes to shoot in stride over the goalie’s pad.
Jeremiah Addison, Ottawa 67’s:
Good hands and extremely aggressive on the forecheck with strong acceleration .. tends to roam in all three zones and can get caught out of position because of it .. not afraid to stick up for his teammates .. goes to the net to score his goals by finishing plays in tight or jumping into the rush for a rebound .. structured, balanced stride but more effective down the sidewall with the puck than taking it inside .. great release but enjoys trying to screen the goalie and redirect pucks .. remains extremely active and involved without the puck .. not a gifted puck carrier but makes the smart, low-risk play .. a linear player.