What a difference 24 hours make.
Coming off a lacklustre performance in a season-opening loss to the Oshawa Generals at home the night before, the Barrie Colts bounced back with a 6-5 win over the Wolves, Friday night, at Sudbury Community Arena.
A night after a 2-1 loss in a game that head coach Marty Williamson said was “just a bad hockey game,” a much-improved effort by the Colts helped them build a 6-3 lead and then hang on in the third period to grab their first win of the season.
“Our compete level was just much better,” said Williamson. “It’s nice to see them respond. We knew we didn’t play a good game (Thursday night) and we responded with a lot more speed and played more of the hockey we have to play.
“We’re not a team that can stand around. We’re not physically big enough and strong enough to do that. We have to use our legs and use our speed.”
Newly-named captain Declan McDonnell and Jacob Frasca led the Barrie attack with a goal and assist each.
McDonnell admits the Colts were much better on this night. They battled hard and were rewarded for it.
“Everyone was a little nervous. It’s always exciting to start a new year,” the overage winger said of the opening night loss. “Everyone played a little passive, but tonight we played much more aggressive. That’s how I hope we play this year.
“Tonight was a good example of how we should play every night.”
Tai York, Roenick Jodoin, Chris Grisolia and Cooper Matthews also scored for the Colts. Grayson Tiller had two assists.
Kocha Delic, Alex Pharand and David Goyette each had a goal and assist for Sudbury. Evan Konyen and Matthew Mania also scored for the Wolves, whose late rally fell short.
After York and Pharand traded goals less than a minute apart early in the first period, Barrie grabbed control of the game later in the opening frame with three goals a little more than a minute apart.
Up 6-3 near midway point of the third, Delic and Goyette would cut the lead to one on goals a little more than three minutes apart, but the Colts and rookie goalie Ben West, making his OHL debut, would hang on.
“It turned into a bit of a crazy game, which is disappointing a bit, but we came out and got the early goals,” said Williamson. “We did the right things. We scored a goal off the backcheck, we scored a goal off a great breakout and we were (battling) and got to the front of the net and scored a goal. All the things we need to do and got rewarded, so that was good to see.”
“It’s early in the season and we don’t know how to quite lock things down yet and make the right decisions, and have a deep enough lineup for all those things that kind of came at us in the third period,” Williamson added. “It got a little crazy and I thought we locked up a little bit. I know the numbers aren’t going to look the best, but I thought the kid in net (West) did a great job for us.”
McDonnell admits the old Sudbury arena is a tough one to play in, but despite the late rally he and his teammates hung on.
“They got some momentum in the third,” he said of the Wolves’ three-goal final frame. “They got a few, but we responded well and stuck to our game plan. It was good for the boys to battle it out.”
With offensive stalwarts Ethan Cardwell, Evan Vierling and Brandt Clark still away at pro camps, the Colts will need to rely on their scoring depth and it came through Friday night.
Six different players scored and 11 Colts managed to get onto the scoresheet.
“We thought that was going to be one of the strengths of our team, that we were going to have a pretty balanced attack,” said Williamson. “To get the balanced scoring is critical for our hockey team.”
Williamson also like the way his team responded after getting scored on. Up until late in the contest, the Colts squashed any kind of Sudbury momentum with key goals to stay comfortably ahead.
“It was critical,” he said. “It was the biggest crowd (3,959 fans) in Sudbury in a long time and it kept the building quiet until the very end.”
The Colts return to action next Thursday when they host the Niagara IceDogs at Sadlon Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Williamson raved once again about the play of Cole Beaudoin. The first-round pick didn’t hit the scoresheet, but had another strong effort. “We’re getting a glimpse of the future,” he said. “That young kid, Beaudoin, just a heck of a game up here. He was just a force out there to handle.” . . . Barrie second-round pick Carter Lowe made his OHL debut. The rookie, who replaced Ben Pickell in the lineup, had one shot on goal. . . Mania’s early second-period goal was reviewed after teammate Landon McCallum crashed into West. Despite the replay clearly showing McCallum throwing his left shoulder into West, knocking him out of the net, Mania’s goal into the wide-open net stood.
Banner image via Terry Wilson/OHL Images