'We like our chances': Ottawa 67's confident heading into 3rd round clash

For Ottawa 67's head coach André Tourigny, the third round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs is no different from the first or the second.

His rules are simple: prepare for the next game, don't pat yourself on the back too much, and don't look ahead too much either.

And so far, he says it's working. 

"We stayed in the moment. We stayed in the present and we focused on what we had to do," said Tourigny, whose squad has gone undefeated in its first two playoff rounds. 

"We haven't won a game in the next round yet, so that's where our focus is."

The 67's will be taking on the Oshawa Generals in the OHL's eastern conference final, after sweeping both the Hamilton Bulldogs and the Sudbury Wolves in the first two rounds.

Game 1 is tonight at TD Place.


Everyone playing a part

Tourigny said that winning — whether it's in the playoffs or during the regular season — makes everything better for the players.

"They like each other. They're happy for the success of individual players but the collective achievement is what motivates them … We all want the guy sitting next to us to have success, so that's what makes a good team."

The individual accolades have been consistent throughout the season, with the acquisition of world junior hockey championship standout goaltender Mike DiPietro, and the play of Tye Felhaber, Marco Rossi and others.

But Tourigny stresses that his team boasts key players who haven't had their share of the spotlight — guys like defenceman Merrick Rippon, for example.

'We all want the guy sitting next to us to have success, so that's what makes a good team.' - Ottawa 67's head coach André Tourigny

"He plays extremely hard, he's physical, really tough to play against. His plus-minus (goals-for to goals-allowed rating) are above 40 this year. His partner Nikita Okhotyuk is another guy I have in mind. In the playoffs, no doubt about it, Mitch Hoelscher really raised his game and is one of our best, if not our best player since the start of the playoffs," Tourigny said.

"Nobody talks about him, but he makes other [players] better, is really good defensively, good in the face-off circle, really good on the penalty kill. So he brings a lot to the team right now."

Will and desire

Tourigny said his entire squad will need to continue with their humble, team-first mentality in order to beat the Generals. 

"Oshawa is a team with a lot of character. They compete really hard. They have a really good goaltender. They play well on both sides of the puck. They have size."

With just four teams remaining in the OHL playoffs, all fighting for the right to represent the league in next month's Memorial Cup, Tourigny feels his players need to find another level to their game. 

"It will be all about will and the desire to win every inch on the ice. We respect them a lot, but we like our chances."