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Expectations 'enormous' as 67's start new season

Ottawa kicks off new year with rematch of last season's OHL Championship.
Ottawa 67's Season Opening Press Conference / Chris Kurys

The Ottawa 67's look to erase the memory of a disappointing end to last season, as they kick off their 2019-2020 season Friday.

“Expectations are enormous” said head coach Andre Tourigny. “People talk about having a better season than last year, which when I sit on my couch I’m wondering how that’s possible.”

This year’s squad will look a bit different compared to last year’s roster that picked up a franchise record 50 regular-season wins and won an Ontario Hockey League-record 14 consecutive playoff games before bowing out to the Guelph Storm in the OHL final.

"We don't have the same depth, but we have really good leaders up front and we have guys with experience, with a good mix of talented players" said Tourigny. "It will be a different look than last year; this year we will have more talent and more IQ."

Gone from last year's team are Lucas Chiodo, Kyle Maksimovich, Sasha Chmelevski (San Jose) and Tye Felhaber (Dallas). They've been replaced by Dylan Robinson and
Brenden Sirizzotti, but a step forward can also be expected from Austin Keating, who was second in scoring last year with 89 points and Marco Rossi, projected to go in the first round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.

Tourigny is in his third year behind the bench for the 67's and hopes to carry over last year’s success into year 3.

"We started two years ago to build a culture, an identity in our team. So we want to play the same way for sure. We want to be really fast and be a really intense team in all three zones." explained Tourigny. "We're really confident with the team we have."

This year’s success will start on the backend, as the 67's bring back six of seven defenders from last year.

"That's obviously exciting for a goalie when you've got a defence corps like this" said netminder
Cédrick Andrée. "It makes my job a lot easier."

Andrée comes into this season as the number one goalie. He finished with 34 wins last year but split time late last season with Michael DiPietro. After DiPietro went down with an injury in the OHL finals, Andrée struggled in the playoffs, and was in net for all four losses to Guelph in the OHL Championships.

With the 67’s beginning their 53rd season Friday, the first opponent for the 67's will be that same Guelph team that ended their magical season. Fifth year defenceman Noel Hoefenmayer said they definitely remember what happened.

"I think it will be good for us to get that kick, right off the start and have that energy coming into the season right away."

One thing to look out for this season will be how fans respond to a successful junior team in Ottawa. As the city realized how special the season was, crowds at TD Place Arena got bigger.

Hoefenmayer said it was pretty cool to have that buzz around the city during the postseason run.

"To have the support we did from all of Ottawa was something that everyone on the team really took to heart, and it gave us that extra boost."

Defenceman Merrick Rippon, coming off offseason surgery said the support means so much to him.

"When I see a packed building and everybody's here to watch us, it's that extra boost, it's that extra bit of confidence and you're there and you're thinking there's people behind us supporting us this year, so let's do it for them."

The 67’s home opener will be September 29.



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