Mistakes prove costly for Colts in 7-4 loss to struggling IceDogs

Every time the Colts would claw back in this one, the IceDogs would come right back

It’s been one step forward, one step back for the Barrie Colts this season.

Less than one week after one of their better efforts of the season, the Colts followed it up with a disappointing 7-4 loss to Niagara IceDogs, Friday night, at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines.

With an opportunity to run their win streak to three games coming off a thrilling 3-2 overtime comeback over the Sarnia Sting last Saturday, Barrie (9-7-2-1) instead replied with a mistake-prone loss to the OHL’s cellar dwellers.

“It’s too hard to win hockey games when you’re giving up that many goals,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson. “They have to buy in or it’s going to be a long second half for us.”

Every time the Colts would claw back in this one, the IceDogs (5-12-3-0) would come right back to regain the lead.

Niagara’s Brenden Sirizzotti, with his first of two on the night, put the home team up early, Ethan Cardwell tied it up 47 seconds later.

Pasquale Zito and Pano Fimis make it 3-1 Niagara early in the second, Cardwell completes the hat trick with back-to-back markers 13 seconds apart to even it 3-3.

IceDogs’ Nolan Dann would reply 23 seconds later to restore the lead, before Sirizzotti extended it a little more than a minute into the third.

Once again the Colts fought back to cut the lead to 5-4 on a power-play goal by Beau Jelsma, but IceDogs would put the game away on late goals by Juan Copeland and Aidan Castle.

Just when the Colts chased down the IceDogs, they got away again.

It also didn’t help that Anson Thornton had an off-night in goal for Barrie, giving up six goals on just 28 shots.

“The whole game was like that. It was endless,” said Williamson. “We do good things and then stupid mistakes. You can’t win hockey games giving up as many goals as we’re giving up. That’s the frustrating part.

“We did some things right, but our goaltending was average today and we just gave up too many odd-man rushes.”

The most painful of those coming just seconds after Cardwell tied it in midway through the second when Connor Punnett got caught pinching and Dann capitalized on the ensuing 2-on-1 to put Niagara back on top for good.

“It’s not so much the effort, it’s just the mental part of the game we’re struggling with,” said Williamson. “We’re working hard in their zone for 30 seconds and. . . we give up an odd man rush. We get a couple of great shifts and two goals by Cardwell to tie the game up and then a defenceman makes a poor pinch and gives up an odd man and they score to make it 4-3.

“That’s the frustrating part. It’s not that there’s a lack of effort, . . . we just couldn’t stop them and play a strong 60 minutes.”

The win was just Niagara’s second in its last 10 games. Barrie outshot the IceDogs 45-29 and while Owen Flores was strong in goal, Williamson gave credit to his teammates as well.

“Sure they’re a struggling team, but they had a good week of practice and I thought they hustled and played hard,” he said of Niagara. “Give them credit. Obviously, we outshot them pretty good, but it doesn’t mean much.”

One of the few lone bright spots for Barrie was the play of Cardwell. The Colt, who recorded his third career OHL hat trick, now has 10 goals and 25 points in just 14 games.

“He was outstanding,” said Williamson. “I can’t say enough good things. He tried to carry this thing on his back.”

The Colts were a less-than-healthy team last night. Both Callum Chisholm and captain Declan McDonnell didn’t make the trip, while Williamson said there were also others in the lineup who were feeling less than 100 per cent.

“I don’t like to make excuses, but we have a lot of sick guys,” he said. “We got the flu bug going through us.”

Unfortunately for the Colts, no rest for the weary. They’re right back at it Saturday night when they complete their road swing in Erie.

The Otters have been playing much better hockey of late, having won two straight and seven of their last 10 games.

“For some reason, it seems we play the better teams and we get more urgency, but tomorrow night we’ll see,” said Williamson.

Game time at Erie Insurance Arena is 7 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Evan Vierling also had a huge night, recording assists on all four Barrie goals. His best came on Cardwell’s third of the night when he stripped the defenceman of the puck and dropped a nifty pass behind him to Cardwell before the Sharks prospect ripped it home. The overager now has seven goals and 24 points in just 15 games. Along with linemate Cardwell, the two veterans have combined for 10 goals and 49 points. . . Jacob Frasca, who had an assist, played in his 100th career OHL game. . . Sirizzotti’s sixth and seventh goals of the season came in his 100th career OHL game. . . Barrie was 1-for-3 on the power play, while Niagara was 1-for-2.

Banner image – Terry Wilson/OHL Images

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