The Ottawa 67s have been the best team in the OHL this season.
So what has made them so good? An elite coaching staff, an exciting young roster and consistent and stable play between the pipes seem like the proper ingredients to the success the 67s have seen.
The OHL season is over now, and the top-seeded Ottawa 67s are set to face off against the eighth-seeded Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round.
The 67s Goalie Tandem
One of the biggest strengths for the 67s is their goaltending tandem. Their two goaltenders are Cedrick Andree and Michael DiPietro. Both goalies, have had an excellent season. In 45 games played this season, Andree has a 2.48 goals against average (GAA) and a .910 save percentage (SV%). His teammate, DiPietro was traded to the 67s prior to the OHL Trade Deadline. In 17 games with the 67s, DiPietro registered a 2.51 GAA and a .897 (SV%). These two goaltenders have been nothing but outstanding and they’l be pivotal to the club’s success in the OHL playoffs.
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Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with 67s goaltender Cedrick Andree about what it means to play for the team he grew up supporting, what factors contributed to his success this season, and what the 67s will need to do to claim victory against the Bulldogs. The interview went as follows.
AH: “As a native of Orleans (suburb of Ottawa), what does it mean to you to play for the team you grew up supporting?”
CA: “It’s definitely awesome. I used to go to games as a kid and I would take my shirt off and spin it around, I was one of those kids. I remember one day I got a puck and actually kept in inside of a coffee grinder to preserve it. I ended up losing the puck, which sucked, but to be in my hometown it’s definitely awesome and kind of insane. I never thought I would reach this point when I was a kid.”
AH: “The Ottawa 67s have been the best team in the OHL this season and they’ve seen a massive improvement from previous seasons. What’s been the key to your consistent elite play as a team this year?”
CA: “We have an awesome coaching staff. They always have video ready for us every day and we’re actually one of the only teams that practices in the morning. They changed around the whole schedule from last year. It also helps a lot when you go to training camp and all of the graduates come back. In training camp you see a bunch of faces from the year before that you remember, we didn’t lose any guys, so I think just the way all of the guys clicked together this year and the bond that we had from last year really helps.”
AH: “Chemistry is obviously an important factor and it seems like you guys have a lot of that.”
CA: “Yeah, most of the guys from last year’s team came to training camp this season and right away we kind of knew it was going to be a good season. Just the way all of the guys get along really helps.”
AH: “You and Michael DiPietro recently won the Dave Pinkney Trophy for the fewest goals allowed of any tandem. What does it mean to you to win that award in just your second season?
CA: “It definitely means a lot. Last year I only had one win, my numbers were pretty awful. Going into this season I only had one goal and it was to not get cut, so to have a season like this is definitely unbelievable. I never really thought it would happen but I put the work in over the summer and I guess it paid off eventually. To win an award like that, it also helps a lot to have a team like I have in front of me so it’s definitely awesome. It was a year to remember.”
AH: “That kind of brings me to my next question. You finished statistically as one of the best goalies in the OHL this season. Your success this year compared to last year has just been astonishing. I was just wondering what’s been the difference between your rookie season and your sophomore season?”
CA: “There were a lot of reasons. One of them was definitely the fact that I was out of high school this year and I had less crammed of a schedule. I had more time to relax, I went to bed earlier, I didn’t have any homework, it’s just more stress-free. We also have a new goalie coach, Charlie MacTavish. He lives in Ottawa, so I knew him personally and he was there every day to help me out. He would show us video every day. Our old goalie coach was great, but he was from Toronto and he would only be able to fly in once every few weeks for, say, three or four days at a time. It also definitely helps that I have a solid squad in front of me this year.
AH: “So would you say that the mental aspect was the biggest factor contributing to your success?”
CA: Yeah, the mental factor was huge. Not many people know this, but I saw a sports psychologist over the summer which really helped me to relax. I also had a really good preseason, but as soon as the regular season started, I was one of the worst goalies in the league three games in and I began to think that it was going to be like last year again. The coach had a talk with me and essentially told me that in the preseason I was joking around and having fun, but as soon as the regular season started I became more uptight and started losing as a result. He told me “I know that’s not you. If you goof around and be yourself before games, I won’t care. Just go out there and have fun.”. Right after we had that conversation, I started to be myself again and it paid off. The team went on a 15 game winning streak. That talk with the coach really helped out.”
AH: “That’s awesome to hear. Everybody has a different mindset that works for them and it sounds like the change in yours really paid off for you.”
CA: “Yeah, definitely. I owe that one to my coach for sure, he saved me there. Me and Mikey (DiPietro) are a lot different in that sense and we always joke around about it. He’s more of a ‘put your head down, focus’ kind of guy and I’m more relaxed. If I’m too stressed then I’m too tight for the game and that didn’t really work for me.”
AH: “You were recently named the second most underrated player in the league in the OHL’s coaches poll. How does that make you feel?”
CA: It’s definitely fun. I never really thought about it beforehand but this kind of achievement really made me happy seeing how the coaches acknowledged me. All season long it was kind of a question in my mind, like “Am I really being noticed?”, you have all these big names like the draft coming up, and I wasn’t included in the draft rankings and all that so I was kind of like “Okay, do people just think I’m a decent goalie on a good team?”. It was always a question in my mind so to see the coaches recognize me kind of shielded that and helped me focus on other things, so it really made me happy.”
AH: “Earlier you were mentioning the fact that you have a great team in front of you, and part of what makes you guys so exciting to watch is the fact that you have a team that’s full of exciting young talent. How instrumental have the play of guys like Marco Rossi been to your team’s success?”
CA: Marco has definitely been awesome. He’s a young import and I heard he was a big name coming into this season but I really didn’t know how instrumental he was going to be to the team and now he’s possibly a shoo-in for rookie of the year. Both of our imports in Nikita (Okhotyuk) and Marco have been solid.
AH: “You’re of Dutch heritage correct?”
AH: “How much would you say your Dutch heritage defines you as either a person or as a hockey player?”
CA: “My Dutch heritage means a lot to me. I have a lot of family out there, and this is a little bit off topic but we took a trip out there to visit them when I was 14 or 15 and we ended up contacting the U16 National Team coach and I ended up meeting him. Hockey, in terms of popularity there is comparable to say, rugby, in Canada. If you say hockey out there, they assume it’s field hockey. So I talked to the national team coach and he basically told me that if I ever wanted to play on the U16 or U18 team, to give him a shout and I would be guaranteed a spot. At this point, if I wanted to play for the national team there, I would have to play two years in a program over there. I could probably play for them if I wanted to, but the program over there isn’t too strong.”
AH: “Who were some of your biggest inspirations growing up?”
CA: “I’ve kind of bounced around a little bit. My first ever “fall-in-love” inspiration was Martin Biron
, that was when I was younger. When I was a little bit more into it I really liked Cam Ward
, I had a little thing for Ray Emery
for a little bit. In the past couple years, I’ve become a big fan of Marc-Andre Fleury
, he has the personality and mindset that I try to have when I play. And lately, I’ve started looking at Andrei Vasilevskiy
as an inspiration. He’s trained in Ottawa every summer ever since he was 18, and I’ve actually gotten the chance to skate with him a couple of times. He trains at the same place that the goalie coach for the 67s does.”
AH: “I have one more question for you. The Ottawa 67s finished in the eighth seed last year and lost in five games to the top-seeded Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round. This year, the roles are swapped and the 67s are at the top facing off against the 8th place Bulldogs. How important is this series to you guys as a team and what will be the key to beating them as well as ideally advancing to the Memorial Cup?
CA: “First thing’s first, our coach always preaches not necessarily focusing on the results, but more so the process. And that’s going to be our goal for the series. Not getting too down if we lose a game, not getting too ahead of ourselves if we win a game, stuff like that. Our coach didn’t even look at the standings until near the end of the season and then out of nowhere he was like “Okay boys, I just found out that we have a chance to break the franchise record for points in a season. I know I don’t talk about points, but this time I am. Let’s go out and do this.”. He never looks at the standings and always preaches focusing on the process and what’s going on in the moment. He was great that way, and I don’t think he’s going to change anything heading into the playoffs. We’re going in with that same mental aspect, and if things work out then things will work out. I will say though, if we beat Hamilton in the first round, that will be sweet revenge. We’re going to be coming out hungry for a win.”
AH: “Perfect. Well, best of luck to you guys in the first round and thanks for taking the time to speak with me!”
CA: “Thanks a lot!”
Puck77 would like to extend a massive thank you to Cedrick Andree for taking the time to talk to us about life as an Ottawa 67s.
stats from eliteprospects.com