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Don Campbell
Special to Ottawa Sun

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With Jack Beck in the lineup this season, the Ottawa 67’s were a better than .500 hockey club.

Without the Calgary Flames draft pick, who missed 22 consecutive games due to injury, the 67’s were four games under .500 and not nearly as threatening on offense given Beck’s 22 goals in 36 games.

So Beck was a welcome and surprising sight in the 67’s dressing room Saturday evening after initially being ruled out with a lower-body injury after blocking a hard shot in the OHL Eastern Conference quarterfinal series opener with the North Bay Battalion.

With Beck on one good leg, the 67’s offense erupted in a most unusual fashion only to have North Bay overager Brandon Coe score the game-winner with just 2.5 seconds remaining in regulation to cap a thrilling, wild-scoring 7-6 affair before 3,086 at the North Bay Memorial Gardens.

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Coe stepped out of the penalty box with 10 seconds to play and took a long pass to go in alone on 67’s netminder Will Cranley for the game winner.

That’s after the 67’s had controlled the entire power play with Coe sitting for a penalty at 17:50.

Prior to that, the 67’s had been less than five minutes from victory when Coe tied things at 6-6, that after 67’s workhorse Luca Pinelli put the team up 6-5 at 5:36 of the third.

So instead of a series tied 1-1, the 67’s hopped the bus right after the game and made their way home to prepare for Games Three and Four on Monday night and Wednesday, respectively, at The Arena at TD Place.

Game Five would be right back in North Bay on Thursday with a potential Game Six on Sunday, May 1 at TD Place, but that’s all another story after the dramatic loss.

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“(Game One) I thought the teams played even,” said 67’s head coach Dave Cameron, moments after the tough loss. “(Saturday) I thought we were better.

“So many guys played so well. But when you score six you have to find a way to win.

“I really thought we served better. The guys are rejected. But we have to go home now and find a way to get that first win.”

As for Beck, instead of waiting to see an orthopedic specialist back in Ottawa Monday, he sought a second opinion Saturday in North Bay and was cleared to go if he could handle the pain. Beck said he could and was a threat every time he touched the puck.

Beck even scored the 67’s fourth goal, his second of the series. It all just wasn’t enough.

After a solid start in a hard-fought 4-1 loss in the series opener, the 67’s came out flying with most of the early action in the North Bay end though it didn’t produce the game’s first goal.

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Mitchell Russell, who scored a pair in Game One, was back at it, opening the scoring just 84 seconds in.

Not to be deterred, the 67’s tied it four minutes later with rookie and Ottawa native Chris Barlas finally being rewarded for his tireless work night-in and night-out. Barlas deflected an innocent shot from the point by Matthew Mayich and it was 1-1 at 5:29.

Forty-two seconds later, the Ottawa Senators’ No. 1 pick Tyler Boucher fired a second rebound past Dunvegan, Alberta’s Joe Vrebetic to make it 2-1 for the 67’s first lead in the series. At the points, the shot clock read 7-1 in favor of the 67’s.

At 9:51, it was another 67’s rookie making his presence felt as Brady Stonehouse beat Vrbetic, again on a rebound, and it was 3-1 and the 67’s seemed to only gain confidence.

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Unfortunately, the great start was all too brief when North Bay tied it on a pair of goals in 45 seconds with Avery Winslow scoring on a fluttering shot at 14:59 and Ottawa native Kyle McDonald tying it at 15:44 on another seemingly innocent- looking shot.

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McDonald’s goal spelled the end of the night for Max Donoso with St. Louis Blues draft Will Cranley coming off the bench for his first OHL playoff action despite this being his third season in the league.

Cranely wasn’t beaten until North Bay’s Anthony Romani made it 4-3 three minutes into the second period.

The 67’s wasted no time responding though on Beck’s goal just 1:47 later.

The period even featured a lively dust up between 67’s giant rookie Derek Smith and Battalion veteran Liam Arnsby just short of the eight-minute mark.

The back-and-forth excitement continued when 67’s defenseman Jack Matier and he another Ottawa native Kyle Jackson traded goals at 1:38 apart to leave it 5-5 after 40 minutes.

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