What a difference 24 hours makes for the Barrie Colts.
Coming off a disappointing loss to the Niagara IceDogs a night earlier, a “much more focused” Colts team got down to business and took down the Erie Otters, 4-2, Saturday night at Erie Insurance Arena.
The Colts blew a 2-0 lead early in the third period, but they regrouped and Hunter Haight, with Barrie on the power play, rifled a beauty shot with just 52 seconds remaining to help them bounce back from a 7-4 defeat Friday on the road.
“It was much better tonight. They played like a hockey team tonight,” Colts head coach Marty Williamson said of his team’s effort. “Unfortunately we gave up a four-minute power-play (to tie it in the third) and we had already killed a five-minute (penalty) earlier. Those things are going to happen time to time and I don’t think those things deterred us from our game.
“I thought we were much more focused and single-minded and did a much better job.”
Barrie (10-7-2-1) took a 2-0 into the third period, but Noah Sedore cut the lead to one and brought the Teddy Bears raining down from the stands just 3:04 in when he shovelled a bouncing puck in front past Ben West.
Erie (10-8-0-2) drew even on a power-play marker by Carey Terrance at the 13-minute mark, but Haight wasn’t about to let a good Barrie effort go to waste.
The Minnesota Wild prospect had his first shot blocked, but the puck came right back to him and the talented centre spun into the faceoff circle to the left of Erie goalie Kyle Downey and from the dot wired a shortside shot over his glovehand and into the top corner.
“It was a nice individual effort,” said Williamson. “The guy made a great shot.”
Jacob Frasca would bury a Beau Jelsma feed into an empty net with 16 seconds remaining to ice the win.
“They’re a good team,” said Williamson of Erie. “They beat Ottawa two games ago and their last two games had been good wins, and they got a lot of dangerous players. To come back this weekend, that’s a big thing.
“It could have been a long bus ride home and we got a lot easier one now, I can tell you.”
After giving up seven goals the night before, the Colts held Erie off the board through 40 minutes, including having to kill off a five-minute slew-foot major that ended Beau Akey’s night early.
Barrie’s two hot veterans came through in the second period.
Erie turned over the puck at the side of the net and Frasca slid it across to Even Vierling who snuck it past Downey just 28 seconds in.
Then a red-hot Ethan Cardwell, coming off a hat trick against Niagara, snuck behind the defence and took a long pass from Artur Cholach from his own end and walked in and fired it over the left pad of Downey at 11:34.
“Vierling and Cardwell have been doing a great job for us and contributing almost every night, so it’s great to see,” said Williamson, who was happy to see his team rewarded for bouncing back. “We just read the game much better.
“Last night it was just stupid mistakes and tonight that was extremely limited. Everybody was engaged and it was a good team win.”
West continued his strong play in goal for Barrie, making 35 saves. After finding his way early in his rookie season, West looks a confident guy in the crease right now.
“He sure does,” said Williamson. “He needs to get rewarded for how well he’s playing and he’s doing a good job in there for us.”
Now the job remains for the Colts to try and build off this. They have just a single three-game win streak in a season where consistency has escaped them so far.
It’s been more win-one, lose-one.
“It’s about building consistency,” said Williamson. “Games like this should just slap them right in the face of how a game’s got to be played. It was just much easier, much more controlled, and not chaotic and that’s how hockey’s got to be played.
“Between periods, I got a much more confident feeling in this group. Their heads are in it and for whatever reason, in the Niagara game, it wasn’t there. If we can do that, we can build consistency.”
The Colts return home Thursday to face the Midwest Division-leading Owen Sound Attack before embarking on a weekend Western swing that will include stops Saturday night in Windsor and Sunday afternoon in Sarnia.
“That’ll be another test for us,” said Williamson.
Game time Thursday at Sadlon Arena is 7:30 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Akey will get at least the automatic two games for his slew foot. His early departure meant Williamson had to lean on Ian Lemieux a little more and the overage blueliner came through. “I thought Lemieux really stepped up,” he said. “He did a great job for us. He’s been in and out of the lineup and I thought tonight he was very good.” . . . Erie outshot Barrie 36-26, including 13-6 in the third. . . Barrie scored on its lone power-play, while Erie was 1-for-4. . . West earned the game’s first star. . . Barrie’s last trip to Erie was back on Feb. 12, 2020. The Colts won 4-3 in a shootout.
Banner image via Terry Wilson/OHL Images