There was nothing special about Barrie Colts’ special teams Friday night.
A familiar problem that Barrie has had to deal with most of the season would rear its head, only this time in a particularly ugly fashion.
On a night to forget for both the power-play and penalty-killing units, Barrie gave up five power-play goals and went scoreless on their own six chances while giving up two shorthanded goals, all of it adding up to a frustrating 9-6 loss to the Wolves at the Sudbury Community Arena.
Both teams combined for what may be an OHL record five shorthanded goals.
“Shorthanded goals all over the place,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson, whose club managed to pot three of their own on this wild night but still came up short. “It’s not the way we wanted to go at it.
“We didn’t get saves when we needed them, we didn’t defend well enough. We score six goals, and you should win hockey games and we didn’t.”
Barrie’s penalty kill has dropped to dead last in the OHL (69.8 per cent efficiency), while the power play isn’t much better at 15th overall (15.1 per cent).
All this and the Colts still almost managed to pull out a win. Down 7-4 after two periods, they rallied to cut the lead to one with shorthanded goals by Zach Wigle and Cole Beaudoin just over five minutes into the third.
The Colts were then handed a golden opportunity to draw even seven minutes later when Sudbury’s Dalibor Dvorsky drew a double high-sticking minor, but a shorthanded marker by David Goyette proved to be the backbreaker and Matthew Mania sealed the Sudbury win with another power-play goal late in the frame.
“They’re very offensive and we knew that,” said Colts veteran Beau Jelsma, who scored twice and added a pair of assists in the loss. “We didn’t make the greatest play and it caught up to us. We paid for it. You can’t make those kinds of mistakes, it just cost us in the end.”
The Colts have now given up eight shorthanded goals, tying them for the league-worst with the Windsor Spitfires despite playing three fewer games.
“I’ve never seen a team give up so many,” said Williamson. “It’s just a lack of care, a lack of structure. It’s brutal.”
Quentin Musty led the Sudbury (13-10-1-0) attack with two goals and three assists for five points, while Dvorsky with three goals and an assist, Goyette, with two goals and two assists, and Nick DeAngelis, with four assists, each had four-point efforts.
Nathan Villeneuve also scored for the Wolves, who moved five points ahead of the Colts for third place in the Central Division standings.
Eduard Sale and Riley Patterson also scored for the Colts, who once again had their specialty teams ruin what was a good effort when even strength.
“Our five-on-five game is really good now and our specialty teams are not great at all,” said Jelsma, who now has seven goals and 10 assists over his last 13 games. “We need to change something, and we need to get it going.
“It’s really kind of hurting us right now and we take full responsibility for that. As a group (players), we just got to go back to the drawing board and get something figured out.”
Despite the struggles on special teams, Williamson was happy his team’s determination to battle back. Barrie was outplayed in the first and trailed 4-0 and then 6-2, before making a game of it late in the second period.
“There’s no quit in the guys,” said Williamson. “They played hard, and we get it to one goal and have a power-play opportunity and just can’t get the push. Then we give up the shorthanded goal and it cost us.”
Jelsma kept on his teammates early that there was still time.
“We didn’t back down at all,” he said. “I just kept hyping up my line and saying ‘It’s not over. There’s still 40 minutes of play left.’ We popped in a couple of goals there and got some life going.
“Honestly, I thought we had some really good moments tonight, but obviously our specialty teams knocked us down. We got to be better that way.”
Barrie’s weekend swing up north doesn’t get any easier when they roll into Sault Ste. Marie on Saturday night. Only Kitchener (134) has scored more goals than the West Division-leading Greyhounds (113).
“During the week I watched them play Saginaw and they’re a really great team,” Jelsma said of the Hounds. “If you make mistakes, they’re going to make you pay. We just got to be smarter with our penalties and if we do get a power play, we need to capitalize on it.
That’s how we’re going to beat this team (Saturday).”
Game time at the GFL Memorial Gardens is 7:07 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Both teams combined for 62 penalty minutes, including a fight between Connor Punnett and Nolan Collins, in the usual chippy affair between the two division rivals. “There’s not a lot of love between the two teams, that’s for sure,” said Williamson laughing out loud. . . Barrie’s struggles on the road continue. Only Oshawa (1-6) has fewer wins on the road than Barrie (3-7). “You just can’t give teams those kinds of goals,” said Williamson. “The building gets excited and it’s just tough to overcome those kinds of mistakes. We got to play a better game (Saturday).” . . . Barrie goalie Ben West was pulled at 14:13 of the second after giving up six goals on 25 shots. Sam Hillebrandt finished the game, giving up three goals on seven shots. Sudbury starter Jakub Vondras was also chased from the net at 5:01 of the third after giving up six goals in 23 shots. Nate Krawchuk finished up, stopping both shots he faced. . . Nolan Newton, who was born in nearby French River, was a minus one and had one shot in his first hometown OHL game.
Banner image via Terry Wilson / OHL Images