Ottawa 7, Niagara 1; Mississauga, 4, Ottawa 2

Two games for the Ottawa 67’s this past weekend — two very different results.

Ottawa started hot against the Niagara Ice Dogs, scoring a touchdown’s worth of goals for a 7-1 win. Next they fell to the Mississauga Steelheads 4-2.

With only six games left in the regular season, each match-up is a massive step in the race for home ice advantage come playoffs. For Ottawa captain, Luca Pinelli starting the first round at home is huge.

“We know our boards here and everything,” he said. “Obviously we have really good fans, so it’d be nice.” 

In either conference, the top eight teams qualify for playoffs with the first-place team playing the eighth, second plays seven and so on. 

The top four teams get home ice advantage. In the Eastern Conference, the Steelheads and 67’s are neck-and-neck. Ottawa is in sixth, with the Steelheads fifth.

It’s a rivalry that could go beyond the regular season, said Ottawa’s Thomas Sirman.

“We knew today was going to have a playoff atmosphere,” he said. “It felt like that in the arena, in warmup and the first minutes.”

But no matter where they play, Ottawa’s head coach, Dave Cameron, says what matters is getting wins.

“No team’s going to give you anything, so you’ve got to be able to fight through.”

Cameron said home ice advantage is always nice, and probably most advantageous come the seventh game, but bottom line, winning is what really matters.

“If you’re a serious team, you’ve got to be able to win on the road,” said Cameron.

Sticking to the plan, no matter who they’re against and where they are, seems to be a motto throughout the Ottawa line up. It’s one Braeden Kressler echoed after a dominant win against Niagara.

Despite the Ice Dogs’ low spot in the standings, by no means did Ottawa treat that game any different, he explained.

“We just have a game plan, which is like every other game. You play hard, you play your systems right,” he said. ‘If those details lead to a football score, we’ll accept it.”

Kressler added these last few games will be the ones that set the tone for the playoffs. Ottawa has another chance to set their own tone Tuesday against the Barrie Colts.