Colts show fighting spirit, earn point in overtime loss in Saginaw

Pair of third period power-play goals gave them late lead

The Barrie Colts had one of the OHL’s top teams on the ropes, only to let them off in what would have been a huge confidence-boosting win on the road for the young rebuilding team.

Alex Christopoulos tied the game with 6:15 remaining and then Matyas Sapovaliv scored just 57 seconds into overtime to help the Saginaw Spirit rally for a 4-3 win over Barrie, Saturday night, at the Dow Event Center.

“It’s a tough loss,” said forward Riley Patterson, who scored on the power play midway through the third period to cap off a three-goal run by Barrie and give them the lead. “It’s a great team over there, they’re Memorial Cup hosts. They loaded up at the trade deadline, so for our group to compete like that and get a point out of it was a good confidence boost for the boys.

“It was a tough one to lose, but to find a positive and get it into overtime with that team was huge.”

Trailing 2-0 late in the second period, Beau Jelsma put the Colts (19-23-3-0) on the board with 49 seconds remaining and then power-play goals less than two minutes apart by Cole Beaudoin and Patterson turned the game around.

The Colts nearly added to their lead, but Christopoulos tied it and late penalties to Roenick Jodoin and Thomas Stewart with less than three minutes remaining quelled the momentum before Zayne Parekh put it right on the stick of Sapovaliv, who directed it past Barrie goalie Sam Hillebrandt for the winner.

“The boys played hard. I’m proud of them,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson, whose club earned an important point to move within two points of the seventh place Kingston Frontenacs in the Eastern Conference standings. “They battled and I thought we had some good momentum after that goal. It’s just unfortunate that the penalties at the end gave them some life and we couldn’t play a normal game from then on.

“It’s a tough way to finish, but a solid 60 minutes. We bent a couple of times, but we kept coming at them and we had a chance to make it 4-2. We had a couple of looks there, just couldn’t quite that extra goal which would have been nice.”

After going pointless on the road since Nov. 10, the Colts finished a week with stops in Owen Sound, Flint, and Saginaw by earning four of a possible six points.

Saginaw (33-13-0-1), which is tied atop the West Division standings with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, is second to only London for the best record on home ice.

“We took the chance, kind of a challenge, that this was going to be like a playoff game,” said Williamson. “We’re going to be in that seventh or eighth seed, we’re going to have to play a one or two seed and give ourselves a little test to see if we can play with teams.

“You know, I think we came out with some confidence, basically, that we can play with anyone in the league when we play the right way.”

The Colts, who are in the middle of a key six-game road swing, take on the Erie Otters on Monday night, before wrapping their travels against the Mississauga Steelheads on Friday night.

“It’s good for the boys to be able to win on the road again,” said Patterson, who along with his teammates ended a 12-game skid away from home with a 4-2 win in Flint on Friday. “We’re playing well and if we keep it going Monday we’ll have a good outcome.”

Barrie’s power play, which sat last in the OHL coming into last night, played a key role once again. After getting the winner late in Flint the night before, the unit struck for a big pair in the third to help Barrie take the lead.

Williamson credited associate coach Phillip Barski for his work with the power play and putting together Tai York, Thomas Stewart, Jelsma, Beaudoin, and Patterson on the top unit.

“I think making that change and getting those five guys together has really kind of solidified our power play,” Williamson said of the unit which finished 2-for-6 on the night. “It’s been a big help.”

Goals by former Colt Hunter Haight and Parekh, whose 23rd of the season set the Saginaw franchise record by a defenceman, put the hosts on top, but Hillebrandt and the Colts found a way to hang on and keep themselves in the game before getting some help from the power play in the third.

“I think we’re all just buying and trusting the system of how our power play works,” said Patterson, who also added an assist and now has five goals and nine points in his last five games. “I think it’s working.

“We’re all making good plays, we’re all confident out there, so now that we’re all on the same page and making the plays that you see, it’s working out well.”

It was another big effort by Patterson who is developing into the high scoring forward the Colts believed he could be when they acquired his rights from Flint before the season.

“Patterson is really coming and he’s playing really well,” Williamson said of the forward who is ranked 116th on the recent NHL Central Scouting Mid-Season rankings for North American skaters ahead of the 2024 NHL Draft. “We’re seeing a real bright future for this young guy. The second half has been a real powerhouse for him.”

Named the OHL Rookie of the Month for January after posting five goals and 15 points, the Burlington native leads all rookies with 18 goals and sits third in scoring among first-year players with 41 points.

“Being able to get rookie of the month was very humbling. I was very fortunate to get that award,” said Patterson. “The second half, I’ve just focused on being myself, playing more confident, and it’s working out well.”

The Otters will provide another stern test for the Colts. Erie, which sits just four points behind the Guelph Storm for fifth place in the Western Conference, is coming off a 6-1 romp of the Kitchener Rangers on Saturday night.

“It was a good hockey game (Saturday night),” said Williamson. “We’ll hold our heads high and walk out with a point and move on to Erie now.”

Game time at Erie Insurance on Monday is 7 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Saginaw outshot Barrie 40-22. . . Beaudoin, who also had an assist, now has a nine-game scoring streak (6-6-12). . . York added an assist and now has 5 goals and 11 points over his last nine games. The line of Beaudoin, Patterson and York have combined for 17 goals and 38 points over the last nine games. . . Haight, who was dealt to Saginaw last season, is having a good year with 21 goals and 33 assists for 54 points in 47 games.

Banner image via Natalie Shaver – Riley Patterson scored his rookie-leading 18th goal to help the Barrie Colts earn a  point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Saginaw Spirit, Saturday night, at the Dow Event Center.

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