Colts run over slumping Knights, 5-2

Barrie hands Western Conference leaders fourth loss in five games

With their first lightly scheduled weekend in three months, the Barrie Colts are heading to the bowling alley tonight to have a little fun.

While they’ll be knocking down pins soon enough, the Colts showed they’re more than ready by bowling over one of the OHL’s top teams on Thursday night.

Ethan Cardwell and Declan McDonnell had a goal and assist each to help Barrie take down the Western Conference-leading London Knights with an impressive 5-2 win at Sadlon Arena.

“We got a kind of team bonding thing (Friday night) where we’ll have a little bowlerama challenge,” said Williamson after the convincing win over Midwestern Division champions. “Everybody is going to the bowling alley, so we’ll have some fun and then go from there.”

The Colts certainly had some fun on Thursday, jumping out to a 2-0 first-period lead and then outshooting the Knights 18-9 in the second en route to a commanding 5-1 lead.

“I think we played great,” said McDonnell, who along with his teammates won their third straight and eighth in the last 10 contests. “It’s a tough contest coming in, but we handled them well and played well. They’re one of the best teams in the west, and it shows where we’re at.”

Beau Jelsma, Jacob Frasca and Cole Beaudoin also scored for Barrie (37-16-6-2), which moved to within three points of the North Bay Battalion atop the Central Division standings.

Captain Brandt Clarke had an assist to run his scoring streak to 11 games (6-14-20) and Evan Vierling added two helpers to improve his scoring streak to 10 games (12-14-26)

Montreal Canadiens prospect Logan Mailloux scored 3:34 into the second period to cut the Barrie lead in half, but it would be close, as London would get all night.

Frasca, Cardwell, with his team-leading 36 goal of the season, and Beaudoin all replied a little more than seven minutes apart as the Colts drove London starting goaltender Brett Brochu from the net 10:14 into the second after giving up four goals on 25 shots.

Zach Bowen came in to finish the contest and gave up a goal on 20 shots.

There’d be no rally or shift in the momentum after London’s first goal. A determined Colts team wouldn’t let them off the mat.

“I think we just kept playing our game,” said McDonnell, “We stuck to our systems. We had a game plan coming in and we stuck to it. We just kept playing the right way for pretty much the whole 60 minutes.”

“We got a big lead in the third and started playing a little more defensively, but it worked out, and it was a big one.”

Williamson really liked his team’s second period. He thought that really set them up.

“We had great looks,” he said of Barrie’s play in the middle frame. “Our shot clock was where we wanted it to be, and we were getting pucks to the net. We got a break off one goal (that bounced off a London defender’s butt to Jelsma in front), but everything we earned. We drew some good penalties. We did good things.

“We played inside, which was what we wanted to do to them and be kind of a perimeter team.”

Denver Barkey would cut the lead to three with a shorthanded marker 4:05 into the third period.

While the Colts were in control, they were fully aware of the Knights have the ability to claw back in this one if they took their foot off the pedal.

“That’s junior hockey. It really is,” said Williamson of almost no lead being safe. “We’ve seen it throughout the league. I was a little unhappy with our power play and the couple of two-on-ones we gave up, but other than that I thought our five-on-five game was pretty solid.

“We had sticks in lanes, we clogged up the middle. We did a pretty good job.”

The Colts have to feel good with a win over a very good London (41-17-2) team, which has surprisingly now lost four of its last five games.

After Barrie beat Owen Sound on Sunday allowing the Knights to clinch their fourth straight Midwest title, the Colts are hoping the Knights return the favour by winning in North Bay on Sunday after a stop Friday in Sudbury.

“It does (feel good) and hopefully they’re a little upset now and go win their next two games and help us with North Bay,” Williamson said with a chuckle. “This is a challenge. North Bay was like a playoff hockey game and this is a playoff hockey game.

“You could see the emotions and the talking and those kind of things that are going on the ice. It mattered to both teams, and we came out on top.”

Barrie plays just its second game of the week when they host Sudbury on Saturday night.

The Wolves have won three straight to move into a tie for sixth in the Eastern Conference .

“They’re playing really good. They’re 7-3 in their last 10, and they’re doing a really good job,” said Williamson.

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

ICE CHIPS: Colts forward Beau Jelsma was hit by a puck in the face late in the third and had to leave the game. “He took a hard puck in the face,” said Williamson. “He got stitches in his nose and (they were) putting a piece of skin back on his nose, so he’ll be OK.” . . . Anson Thornton made 26 saves for Barrie and picked up his 25th win to move into a tie for third with Brochu in goaltending wins. . Jelsma had a goal called back late in the second after he poked the puck in front from under Brochu’s glove, He would score his career high 28 goal just seconds later. . . Barrie outshot London 45-28.

banner image: Terry Wilson/OHL Images