Published September 30, 2023

Patterson’s first OHL goal leads Colts to home-and-home sweep of Battalion

Barrie Colts - Jacob Frasca

Barrie Colts head coach Marty Williamson challenged Riley Patterson to be better than his OHL debut less than 24 hours earlier.

The rookie forward not only accepted the challenge Friday night in North Bay, he aced it.

Patterson’s first OHL career goal midway through the second period broke a 1-1 tie and proved to be the winner as the Colts defeated the Battalion 3-1 to sweep a home-and-home opening weekend set against their Central Division rivals.

“It was really nice for him,” Williamson said of Patterson’s first OHL goal. “He knows he had a little bit of a rough opening night for us, and I thought he was much better tonight. We challenged him to be better and, like a lot of guys, I thought he was. He used his speed there and that’s one of the things that was missing the other night.

“Another nice pass from (Eduard Sale) and it busts him free, and then he said he hung in there. It looked like not many goals were going in. We got good looks there again, but we couldn’t get the puck in the net, so that was a big goal for us.”

Patterson’s winner came just under three minutes after Alliston native and former Barrie Colts minor midget Lirim Amidovski potted his first OHL goal 40 seconds into the second period to help North Bay tie the game at 1-1.

“It feels great,” Patterson said of his first OHL goal and point. I think that’s what all first years want to do, is get (the monkey) off the back early and just go out there and play hockey.”

The goal scorer’s goal came off a nice backhand pass from Sale at centre ice.

“It was a good regroup transition in the neutral zone,” Patterson said of the winner. “I was able to find Sale and he was able to bounce it back to me with speed and I was able to get a rebound just past the goal line.”

Patterson took the pass and then hit the burners, rocketing between two defencemen before beating North Bay goaltender Dom DiVincentiis.

“I tried to at least,” chuckled the forward about cranking up the speed.

A night after a hard-fought 4-3 shootout win over the Battalion, the Colts came right back with an impressive effort despite the short rest.

Williamson was certainly happy with his team’s play.

“I am. I thought the guys were real good,” he said. “It’s tough to win on the road in this league and that was impressive start to finish. We didn’t have many long stretches where we struggled. I thought we were in pretty good control, just a little more goal-scoring would have made it a little more relaxing.”

Beau Akey, off to a strong start with a goal and two assists, sealed the win with an empty-net goal with just six seconds remaining.

As it turned out, the Colts wouldn’t need much offence on a night where they gave up few quality scoring chances.

Protecting a 1-0 first-period lead on a goal by Zach Wigle, Barrie gave up just 16 shots over the final two frames. When they did need him, goalie Sam Hillebrandt was there to make the stop.

“That was, I thought, the big difference in the game,” Williamson said of limiting the offensive chances against. “Our turnovers were a lot better, and we didn’t make as many. We had a lot more pride in our skating on the ice and didn’t give up the middle of the ice and breakaways, and all those kinds of things that we struggled with in Game 1. We challenged the whole group. It’s tough to win on the road and they really answered the challenge.”

“I thought we made it easier on him, but Hildebrandt came up with some big saves when we needed it. He looked solid in the net.”

The Colts also got overage forward Jacob Frasca in the lineup and while there’s still lots of moving parts, the chemistry is coming around with the young club.

Sale and Patterson have certainly shown it early on. The Seattle Kraken top prospect had the shootout winner on opening night and already has three assists in two games.

He set up Punnett with the tying goal on a nice cross-ice pass late in the third in the home opener and then slid a backhand feed to Patterson who was firing up the middle on the winning goal Friday.

Patterson is learning you always must be ready whenever Sale has the puck on his stick.

“He’s a first-rounder for a reason,” the centre said of his import winger. “He’s an amazing player and easy to play with, so it makes my job easy out there.”

While there’s still a way to go with chemistry for a team that has played few games together, Williamson sees some good signs.

“That’s the kind of game you can really build on,” he said. “We showed a lot of positives. That’s the kind of games you want to grow from.”

The Colts wrap up their three games in three nights opening weekend with another tough road contest Saturday night against an Owen Sound Attack club many expect among the top teams in the Western Conference.

“It’s good to get a test early,” said Patterson. “It shows the character of our team and being able to get two wins here early, hopefully we get a third one (Saturday).”

Williamson says it's always nice when you’re heading into the final game of a busy weekend with a pair of wins under your belt.

“We’ll get home late (Friday night), but they’ll get a good sleep and at 2:30 p.m. we’ll hop on the bus and go try to make it a real good weekend,” he said.

Game time tonight at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre is 7 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: North Bay outshot Barrie 30-25. . . Both teams were scoreless on four power-play chances. . . Bode Stewart, acquired before the season from Saginaw, recorded his first point with Barrie with an assist. . . Jack Brauti made his OHL debut on the Colts blueline. Overagers Ben West and Josh Kavanagh were both scratches, with Nolan Chartrand backing up Hillebrandt in goal.

Banner image via OHL Images

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