The Barrie Colts’ power play had been charged up of late, but a trip to the Nation’s Capital on Friday night saw it come unplugged in a big way.
The host Ottawa 67’s scored two first-period shorthanded goals and never really looked back en route to a decisive 6-1 win over the Colts at TD Place.
Boasted by the OHL’s top power play – which also scored twice – and the second-ranked penalty-killing unit, the host 67’s gave Barrie a pretty good look at why they are off to a league-best 11-1 start and ranked sixth in the CHL’s Top 10 rankings.
“It had to do with their five-on-five game too. They work awfully hard,” Colts head coach Marty Williamson said of the 67’s. “We just didn’t have it. A little beaten up, a little sick and a lot of travel and just didn’t have our legs.
“The bottom line is when you get outworked, you’re not going to win hockey games unless your just lucky and tonight wasn’t a lucky night.”
Certainly not for the power play.
After spending most of the early season hovering near the bottom of the league at 19th overall, a recent surge has powered the Colts power play up the league rankings to 10th overall with a 20.4 efficiency.
But the biggest jolt by specialty teams on this night was provided by Ottawa. With Barrie on the power play in the opening period, Brad Gardiner opened the scoring for the hosts at 13:28.
Jacob Frasca replied on the power play at 15:28 to even things up for Barrie (6-4-1-1), but a little more than a minute later the 67’s grabbed the lead back on yet another shorthanded marker, this time by Brady Stonehouse. It was his first of two goals in the game.
Cameron Tolnai, who also had a pair of goals, scored on the power play with just 12 seconds remaining in the frame and Ottawa’s specialty units had the hosts in charge.
“It’s very disappointing to give up the two shorties. It just makes the game hard,” said Williamson. “We had a chance to go on the advantage and we give it away. Basically, we were just outworked.”
Stonehouse and Vincent Rohrer scored less than three minutes apart early in the third to seal head coach Dave Cameron’s 400th career OHL win.
“We were just outworked from start to finish,” Williamson added. “We didn’t have our legs, we didn’t have enough guys going with the same speed in the same shift. It was one guy and then this guy.
“It was just one of those games. You got to put it behind you, get healthy and get ready for next week.”
The Colts power play finished 1-for-5 and were outscored with the man advantage.
“I think it was an off night for the power-play guys. Nothing huge,” said Barrie defenceman Beau Akey. “It was pretty good for the past couple of games and I think tonight it was just off.”
For Williamson, the Colts have to do a better job with the man advantage. Whether it’s coming around slowly or not.
“It’s disappointing though. Other teams’ power plays are coming together quicker,” he said. “You don’t know how much time it’s going to take, but we got to work really hard at it and find out why we’re struggling so much with five-on-fours.”
Barrie has lost four out of its last five games and injuries to two key veterans on the back end hasn’t helped.
Ian Lemieux has missed nearly two weeks, while Artur Cholach has now been out for three weeks.
“They’re day-to-day and we don’t know,” said Williamson of when they will return. “Lemieux has a back injury and you never know with a back. One day it looks good and the next day it’s seizing up on him, so we’re not sure with that one.
“Cholach we can’t rush. He’ll probably maybe get into practice towards the end, but we might have to wait another week for him.”
A much-needed weekend off couldn’t come at a better time, but it’s back to full slate next weekend for the Colts when they play their first three-in-three of the season.
Barrie hosts the Hamilton Bulldogs on Thursday and hit the road Friday to take on the London Knights, before returning home Saturday night to Sadlon Arena to face the North Bay Battalion.
“We got a lot of sick bodies,” Williamson said of the much-needed break. “We got to get healthy and have our full energy and then get back to work.”
Game time Thursday is 7:30 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Cameron is just the 15th coach to hit the 400-win mark in the OHL. . . Anson Thornton faced 37 shots in goal for Barrie. Max Donoso turned aside just 21 shots to pick up his seventh win of the season for Ottawa. . . Cole Beaudoin and Canada Black fell to 1-1 Friday at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Langley, B.C. with a 5-1 loss to Finland.
Banner image via Tim Austen