Published February 25, 2024

Colts get to work in win over Mississauga

Hillebrandt bounces back with 43-save effort
Barrie Colts

The start Saturday night may not have been exactly what they wanted, so the Barrie Colts threw on the work boots and got down to work.

And once again, a good night’s work came with a solid reward as the Colts scored twice late in the second period to break open a scoreless draw and go on to defeat the Mississauga Steelheads 4-1 in front of a sold-out crowd at Sadlon Arena.

The win strengthened Barrie’s (23-28-3) grip on the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, moving the club eight points ahead of the Peterborough Petes and 10 points ahead of the Niagara IceDogs with 14 games remaining.

Approaching the stretch drive of the OHL season, the Colts also hold two games in hand on the Petes and three on Niagara, both who lost last night.

“I think that’s the one thing our team does the best, we don’t take nights off when it comes to our work ethic,” said Colts forward Michael Derbidge, who had two assists on the night, including one on a sensational play to set up captain Beau Jelsma. “As long as you bring that every single night, the pieces are going to come together.

“Obviously, some nights we can do some things better, but our work ethic is what is holding us in right now. It’s surprising a lot of teams when we come in and we’re working harder than them.”

Mississauga (29-21-6-0), which came into the night having won three straight and outscoring its opponents 16-5, carried play in the opening period, but a strong effort in goal by Sam Hillebrandt kept it scoreless.

“I didn’t like the first period so much,” admitted Colts head coach Marty Williamson. “We had a little talk, but it seems we got the ability now to self-correct and not kind of compact problems and that’s what I really enjoy about these guys.

“It wasn’t a god-awful period, but not just the best and then all of a sudden we made corrections and we became a pretty tight team for two periods.”

Cue the trio of highlight-reel goals for Barrie that sealed the win.

Bode Stewart opened the scoring with just over five minutes remaining in the second period when he drove around a defender, cut in front, and slid it around the far pad of Steelheads goalie Jack Ivankovic.

Then on one that is certain to rank among the highlights of the week, if not year, less than two minutes later Derbidge stickhandled his way through the skates of blueliner Steven Leskovar and then backhanded it to a charging Jelsma who moved to his backhand and flipped it over a sprawling Ivankovic.

“I don’t do that often,” said Derbidge, laughing out loud about his beautiful setup. “Something came over me, I don’t know. I don’t do that all the time, so I was pretty happy.”

Blueliner Jack Brauti helped finish Barrie’s dazzling run of offence just 35 seconds into the third when he made a nice play in front to get it to a wide-open Zach Wigle   

“We’ve been trying to work on our rush attacks in practice to understand options, but it was a heads-up play by Brauti,” said Williamson. “Just to realize he had nothing and he could have easily jammed that puck at the goalie, and he (instead) put it to the other side of the net.

“Those are big goals. It takes a little bit of the heat off. All of a sudden you get the bobble or the penalty kill doesn’t work and you still got the cushion there.”

Parker Von Richer would spoil Hillebrandt’s shutout on a somewhat fluke goal with a little more than five minutes remaining when his shot from the point hit the goalie’s glove and popped over him and just crossed the goal line.

It was the only one of 44 shots to beat the Barrie goalie who more than atoned for last Monday’s 7-4 loss in Kingston when he was pulled just 10:03 into the first period after giving up three goals on just eight shots.

“We counted on him for that,” Williamson said of the bounce back by Hillebrandt. “There’s no panic with him. We think he’s there for us every night. It was a tough one in Kingston when he gave up that second goal.

“There’s really nobody more determined than him. He worked hard in practice, took an extra ice session with (goalie coach Dave Belitski) and I thought he answered the bell.”

Derbidge was happy to see his teammate between the pipes come right back with a big effort.

“This was, for sure, a revenge game for him,” the Colts winger said. “Obviously, he wasn’t too happy about the game he had in Kingston, but he played outstanding tonight and he held the guys in the game at a lot of key moments, so this was definitely a big night for him.”

Jelsma’s second of the contest and team-leading 27th into an empty net with just 1:35 iced the game.

“They played well,” Williamson said of his team. “It was a good job and they’ve given us a chance at a six-point weekend. We got to go into Oshawa now (Sunday night) and it’s not easy, and they’re coming off tough games.

“As I’ve said, we haven’t had many bad efforts from this team since the trade deadline. We show up and play. Yeah, it doesn’t always work out, but I love our effort.”

Game time against the Generals at the Tribute Communities Centre tonight is 6:05 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Cole Beaudoin’s 16-game scoring streak came to an end. . . Attendance was 4,174. All eight Saturday games since the Christmas Break have drawn over 4,000 fans. . . The Barrie penalty kill came up big, holding the Steelheads scoreless on four chances. The penalty kill did a good job for us, which was big,” said Williamson. “They’ve been real hot lately and that was kind of the real challenge for our guys.” . . . Mississauga outshot Barrie 44-24. “It didn’t seem like a 43-shot type game, where you’re in panic, running around and your goalie is standing on his head,” said Williamson. “I thought Hilly made some good saves for us, but I thought for the most part we were pretty controlled.”

Banner image via Terry Wilson/OHL IMAGES

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