Clarke to return, but not before Colts’ point streak ends in Mississauga

The return of the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will provide a huge boost to the Barrie blue line

Their 11-game point streak came to end in Mississauga, but it wasn’t all bad news Friday night (Jan. 6) for the Barrie Colts.

Just a few hours before a disappointing 5-1 road loss to the Mississauga Steelheads at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre, the Colts learned Brandt Clarke – fresh off a gold medal win with Canada at the world junior hockey championships in Halifax the night before – was being assigned to the team by the Los Angeles Kings.

Clarke started the season with Los Angeles and played nine games before being loaned to the Canadian national junior team at the beginning of December for worlds.

The return of the eighth overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will provide a huge boost to the Barrie blue line.

“It was good news,” said general manager and head coach Marty Williamson after Barrie’s first regulation loss since Dec. 3, 2022 in Windsor. “(Kings’ general manager) Rob Blake texted me today and I talked to Clarke and he’ll be at practice on Monday, so it’s very good news.

“I’m excited and it’s good to hear from him.”

As for the loss in Mississauga, that was another matter.

Tai York scored 14 minutes into the opening period to give Barrie (18-10-4-2) the lead, but it was pretty much downhill from there.

“It just wasn’t there tonight in every facet of the game,” said Williamson. “We’ll put this behind us and get ready for Niagara (Saturday).”

Mississauga (16-16-4-0) would take a slim 2-1 lead into the third period on a pair of goals by Kasper Larsen, but a pair of goals by Adam Zidlicky, in his first game with the Trout since being acquired from Kitchener, and another by Zander Veccia put Barrie away.

The Colts generated little in terms of offence with only 17 shots and appeared flat coming off an emotional 3-2 overtime win at home over the Eastern Conference leading Ottawa 67’s the night before.

Newly acquired winger Tyler Savard was stopped on a penalty shot early in the first and Barrie did manage to hit a pair of crossbars in the third, but those calls were few.

“We can say what we want, but we were just outworked,” said Williamson. “It’s a lesson learned, so we just got to put this behind us. We were spinning our wheels all night. That’s what happens to you in this league.”

Even Barrie’s specialty teams came up short on this night. The OHL’s second-rated power play went scoreless on four opportunities and gave up a huge shorthanded marker by Zidlicky just 1:11 into the third that gave the Steelheads a 3-1 lead and proved to be the dagger.

“It was every facet of the game,” said Williamson. “They hit us up on the power play for a shorthanded goal and they get one (on the power play) themselves. Tonight, the specialty team battles were just part of the problem.”

The Colts wrap up a three-in-three weekend Saturday night when they host the IceDogs.

Niagara sits last overall in the OHL standings and has only two wins in its last 10 games, but the Colts only have to look the difference between the game against Ottawa and Friday’s loss in Mississauga to see you can ill afford to take the foot off the pedal against any team in the league.

“I think they’re going to be very similar to these guys,” said Williamson of Niagara. “They’re young and hungry. They got a new coach (Ryan Kuwabara) in there. They just work hard and you got to play structured, and you got to match their work ethic.”

Do that and Barrie can start another points streak.

“That’s it,” added Williamson. “You’re going to have bumps on the road and the character shows how you respond. I expect a response (Saturday).”

Game time at Sadlon Arena is 7:30 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Ben West, making his first start in goal for Barrie since Dec. 18, gave up five goals on 38 shots. Anson Thornton is set to start Saturday in net for Barrie. . . Mississauga goalie Alessio Beglieri made 16 saves to record his first win since Nov. 13. . .  Evan Vierling had his nine-game scoring streak (9-10-19) snapped. . . Innisfil native James Hardie had two assists for Mississauga. The winger could be traded before Monday’s overage deadline. . . Artur Cholach recorded an assist on Barrie’s lone goal to improve his points streak to four games (1-4-5).

Banner image via OHL Images 

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