The road has been a dismal place for the Barrie Colts this season and Sunday afternoon in North Bay wasn’t any different.
The Battalion struck for three goals a little more than three minutes apart late in the first period and never looked back, marching their way to a 7-1 romp over the Colts at the North Bay Memorial Gardens.
The loss snapped Barrie’s (18-24-1-0) three-game win streak and dropped their record away from home this season to a league-worst 3-16.
Barrie has now lost 11 straight on the road, and its last win at Sadlon Arena came back on Nov. 10 in Mississauga (a 3-1 win).
Having just kicked off a six-game road swing, the Colts will have to figure out a way quickly to turn things around and get some much-needed points to help them in their battle with the Peterborough Petes for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
“We need to get our away record way better, obviously it’s not good right now,” said assistant captain Cole Beaudoin, who had Barrie’s lone goal. “We need to battle in other teams’ buildings. Hopefully, on this trip, we can get the wins in the win column. We need to keep winning. We need to cancel out the crowd and just keep motoring.”
The Battalion (23-15-6-2) broke things open with less than four minutes remaining in the first period when OHL scoring leader Anthony Romani, who had a pair of goals and three points, Brice Cook, and Dalyn Wakely, who finished with a goal and four points, beat Barrie goaltender Ben West.
“We didn’t play a bad 60 minutes, it was just four minutes we made three dumb mistakes,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson. “As the game went on, I thought mentally we were pretty drained. I thought physically we were OK, but mentally a lot of our young guys were pretty drained and we continued to make mistakes.
“It was too bad for Westie because I think for a 7-1 game, and it’s kind of bizarre, he played pretty good. There were a couple of breakaway saves early and things like that that gave us a chance, but we just didn’t respond well for him.”
Beaudoin gave the Colts some hope when he cut the lead to two by sliding the puck under goalie Mike McIvor 3:07 into the second on a nice three-way passing play with Tai York and Riley Patterson, but North Bay would respond in the same frame with goals by Romani, his league-leading 38th, Owen Van Steensel and Sandis Vilmanis to all but put this one away.
Jacob Therrien scored with 38 seconds remaining to complete the scoring.
“Going down 3-0 is obviously not something you want to do in any game,” said Beaudoin. “After that, we needed to fight back and keep pushing, and we just didn’t have enough defensively. We needed to shut down.
“Like Marty always says, ‘When you play good defensively, the chances offensively always come.’ We didn’t play too well defensively and let seven goals against, which is not good.”
The Colts were making a quick turnaround after a 3-2 shootout win at home over the Oshawa Generals less than 16 hours earlier, while North Bay had the night off after a pair of tough home-and-home losses to the Sudbury Wolves on Thursday and Friday.
Williamson said that’s just the way the league goes. Sunday, the Battalion held an advantage with some extra rest, like the Colts did Saturday against an Oshawa team that had played the night before.
A young Colts team will need to learn to deal with the scheduling. A busy road swing will have them make stops in Owen Sound on Wednesday, Flint on Friday, Saginaw on Saturday, Erie next Monday and Mississauga next Friday.
They need to figure out a way to get points on the road. At home, the Colts are 15-8-1-0 and their 31 points ties them Sudbury for most in the conference.
“That’s the growth of this team,” said Williamson. “We play a little harder at home, a little more physical and we need to do the same thing on the road. I think this road trip is a little more balanced, there’s no huge (scheduling) disadvantages.”
It’s certainly a busy stretch. Including back to Thursday’s win over Owen Sound, Barrie will play seven times in 12 days.
“You don’t get any breaks with the schedule. It’s tough,” said Williamson. “When you got a young hockey team, you’re asking them to be mentally strong nonstop, and it wears on you.”
Barrie will look to get back on track Wednesday in Owen Sound. Game time at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre is 7 p.m.
“We need to go in there and try to play a really good game and try to build on it going into Flint and Saginaw,” added Williamson.
ICE CHIPS: Chris Grisolia, who has been out with a high ankle sprain since Dec. 30th, is still a little way from returning. “He’s into a light skate mode and might attempt to practice next week,” said Williamson. “He’s two weeks for sure.” . . . Beaudoin, who played his fourth game in five days, stretched his scoring streak to six games (4G, 3A) with his 20th goal of the season. . . Patterson has points in five of his last six games (2G, 6A). . . North Bay outshot Barrie 37-24. . . The Troops were 1-for-3 on the power play, while the Colts were 0-for-3.
banner image: Terry Wilson, OHL Images