Oshawa Generals’ big forwards dominating in Games 1 and 2 victories

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One of the big reasons the 67’s are optimistic about climbing back into their second-round series with the Oshawa Generals after losing the first two games in Oshawa is a 19-year old defenceman who stands 6-foot-2, weighs 200 pounds, has a mean streak and will be playing guilty going forward.

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All coach Dave Cameron plans to say to defenceman Matthew Mayich before his return from the three-game suspension he received for threatening an opponent in Round 1 will be about not trying to come back as Bobby Orr, Denis Potvin or, for you younger readers, Cale Makar.

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“Huge,” Cameron said after Monday’s bus ride home from Oshawa, and the afternoon practice at TD Place that followed it, when asked what it means to be getting Mayich back for Game 3 (7 p.m.) on Tuesday. “He’s been one of our top defencemen, plays all the big minutes … we’ve missed him. The only conversation I’ll have with him is don’t think you’ve got to come back now and rescue the team by trying to do too much. Just come back and be Matt Mayich.”

Mayich being Mayich should make an impact.

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A St. Louis Blues prospect, he was voted one of the Eastern Conference’s top three defensive defencemen in the annual coach’s poll, and his size and strength should be a tremendous plus against the large Generals forwards who were so good in Friday’s 4-3 loss and Sunday’s 6-1 schooling at Tribute Communities Centre.

The three stars in Game 2 were:

  1. Beckett Sennecke, an undrafted 6-foot-2, 175-pounder who had two goals
  2. Generals captain (and Carp native) Stuart Rolofs, a 6-foot-3, 205-pounder who had a goal and an assist, and 
  3. The mountainous Dylan Roobroeck, a 6-foot-7, 205-pound New York Rangers prospect who had a goal, assist and a game-high eight shots.

Roobroeck was dominant in Game 1 with a goal and three assists, while Colorado Avalanche first-rounder Calum Ritchie (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) had two massive third-period goals and a helper in Friday’s series opening victory.

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Sennecke added a goal an assist and was a plus-4.

“It was terrible watching, obviously, to see the boys get beaten out there. It was tough,” said Mayich, one of the last players off the ice at Monday’s practice. “Just sitting and watching …  you want to be out there anytime. It’s a tough situation.”

He’s also anticipating the words he’ll hear from Cameron before his series debut.

“Absolutely there is going to be a lot of motions,” said Mayich, an assistant captain in his third year with the 67’s. “I’m definitely pretty pumped to play. Sitting at home I was pumped, right? Obviously watching it sucks. It’s terrible.

“But I’ll have to focus on just playing my game. Can’t do it all on in one shift. Play simple. Play hard against their top guys. They’re doing a great job right now, so obviously that’s kind of the challenge for us as D-core, just shutting them down. Yeah, I think just playing simple, playing my game, playing what got me here, what got the team here.

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“I’ve done a lot of work with Younger (Head of athletic performance Sean Young) and our skills coaches here (while suspended), so I’m definitely ready to go.”

If games were half as long as they actually are, the 67’s might have come home with at least a split.

The series opener was tied 2-2 six minutes into the third period, while Game 2 saw the 67’s score first and trailing only 2-1 until there was less than five minutes remaining in the second.

“We just didn’t have it (Sunday) night,” said 67’s winger Brady Stonehouse. “It’s a good thing today’s a new day. We’re going to put yesterday behind us, not going to think about it too much. It’s a seven-game series and we’re back at home, so that’s nice.

“Obviously, there’s a sense of urgency, but I don’t think there’s any panic in that room. We’ve got a lot of experience in that room and we’re going to come out hard at home. We’re not going to lose a playoff series until you lose at home, so we don’t want to lose here Tuesday and Thursday. We’re gonna do our best to win two and bring it back to Oshawa on Friday.”

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Getting Mayich back will be a “good energy boost”, said Stonehouse.

“He’s an older player, and he’s, he was on last year’s team and we were good,” said the winger. “It just gives that veteran experience and another guy in the leadership role on the team, so it’ll be good.”

The crowd should also help Tuesday.

The 67’s only won 17 of their 34 home games during the regular season, but they were 3-0 at TD Place against Brantford in Round 1.

“It’s a homer league and we’re hoping to take advantage of that,” said Cameron. “The fans have been great, the atmosphere … just urgency shouldn’t be a (negative) issue when you’re down two-cob.

“They’ve been the better team to date. I’d say out of six periods, we played maybe two and a half good periods. For whatever reason. I think it’s just a matter of us relaxing, accepting the fact it’s a game of inches now, and make make the tight plays. The next play is the right play.”

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And for the 67’s to play the right way, they’ve got to stick together. Literally.

“It’s really simple,” said Cameron. “When you watch our hockey club and we’re playing well, in all three zones we have five guys. We call it “555”. Five guys in each zone and five guys connected. That gives you the best opportunity to defend. It gives you the best opportunity to attack and that’s been missing in our game. Now you lose your 555 in different ways, and a big part of that is execution. When you don’t move the puck and make accurate tape-to-take passes, pucks are going to bobble, guys are going to be trying to push the pace a little bit … they open up ice and then they become discombobulated. Our poise and and our execution allows us to play 555, and that’s when we’re at our best.”

The 67’s are also a better team with Mayich in the lineup.

“Well he should feel bad … I hope he feels bad,” Cameron said playfully. “(The tendency might be) to play the rest of the series every shift. You can’t do that.

“We’ve got no excuses,” he added. “We’ve got to be better.”


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