Ottawa 6, Brantford 5 (OT)

They say good defence can be the best offence and for the Ottawa 67’s Thursday that was literally the case.

Led by defenceman Samuel Mayer, the team now has a 3-1 lead in its first round playoff series against the Brantford Bulldogs. Mayer was one of four 67’s defenders to record a point in Thursday’s action-packed game.

In Mayer’s case, he scored a hat trick in goals, including the overtime winner, and he also registered a Gordie Howe hat trick with an assist and a fight.

“I just sent pucks to the net and some of them went in,” said the humble L’Orignal native.

The 6’3″ 202 pound Mayer showed another reason why Ottawa traded for him in January when he dropped the gloves against Calvin Crombie after the Bulldogs forward’s slewfoot of 67’s netminder Colin MacKenzie. It was also payback for an earlier Crombie collision with Mackenzie in the first period right after Marek Vanacker opened the scoring for Brantford.

The game wasn’t going all that well for Ottawa early on as the Bulldogs built up a 3-1 lead midway through the second period.

But things started to turn around with Mayer leading the way. He scored his first of the game early in the second tapping a rebound past Bulldogs goalie Matteo Drobac.

“It’s the way the play develops, Pinelli went up to the point and I took his spot and decided to stay there and with my big body I was able to block a good portion of the goalie’s vision and it worked out well.”

Mayer made it a one goal game with a shot from the point on a screened Drobac, with 40 seconds left in the second and the turnaround was underway for the 67’s.

Ottawa defenceman Henry Mews, a projected first round pick in this year’s NHL draft, celebrates his game tying goal in front of the Brantford bench. He also notched an assist in the game. [Photo @ Tim Austen]

Ottawa charged out the dressing room to start the third period scoring three goals in a row with Henry Mews kicking it off on the power play with a one-timer from the point just over six minutes in. Mayer recorded an assist on the goal.

“They’re a big, strong team but we know if we play our game we’re the better team,” Mews said. “It’s our game plan, we want to put pucks on net with traffic up front and find those free lanes and that’s what we did.”

With three minutes left in the game, Ottawa was leading by two goals. However, two Brantford goals in two minutes, from Zakary Lavoie (his second of the game) and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Nick Lardis, forced overtime. 

Ten minutes in, Mayer sent a shot from the point that beat Drobac. The hat trick was confirmed after a review that felt like it took hours.

Ottawa forward Kimi Körbler returned to the ice after missing the first three playoff games due to an upper body injury. While his teammate, impact forward Caden Kelly left the game early in the second period after an undisclosed injury. 

Ottawa’s Bradley Horner and Will Gerroir also each recorded a goal in Thursday’s win.

Mayer is now tied with Luca Pinelli as the leading goal scorer this playoffs for the 67’s. They play in Brantford Saturday afternoon hoping to close out the series with a win in Game Five.