Steelheads grind out win over Colts

The loss was Barrie's second straight

The Barrie Colts are still finding their way this season in close games that require a team to grind it out.

Friday night was another lesson in that, albeit a tough one after being shutout 3-0 by the host Mississauga Steelheads at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre.

Zachary Lavoie scored the winner midway through the first period and Luke Misa and Max Dodig added insurance markers in the third as the streaking Steelheads (9-4-1) got a perfect 26-save effort in goal from Roman Basran to win for the seventh time in their last eight games.

The loss was Barrie’s (7-6-2) second straight and first in three games to Mississauga.   

“It was the kind of game I thought it was going to be and I don’t think we’re as comfortable playing it,” Colts head coach Marty Williamson said after the loss. “That’s what we got to grow into. Winning more loose puck battles, more net battles, those kind of things.

“We want the odd man rushes and to have a little bit more of the wide open game, and that’s more playoff hockey out there.”

The Colts were solid through two periods, killing four Mississauga power plays, despite being on the wrong end of a one-goal game.

The wheels, though, would come off in the third when a poor opening 10 minutes of the period put any chance of a comeback on ice.

It was a change in the way the Barrie closed out two close games against Mississauga earlier this season. In their first game this season, the Colts scored twice in the third to win 2-0 and then late last month they rallied from a two-goal deficit to win 3-2 in overtime.

“I didn’t mind our first 40 minutes,” Williamson said. “You knew it was going to be a chess match, they don’t give up an awful lot. You got to stay composed. You got to be willing to grind out a 1-1 game or kind like the last time we were in here when it was 2-2 and we won in overtime. Very similar type games. It was 2-0 the first game.

“It’s that kind of game against them and we didn’t find a way to get through to their goaltender and defence and get enough opportunities.”

Barrie had few good offensive chances on this night. Most of their shots came from outside unlike the Steelheads who scored on a pair of wraparounds and got another off a loose puck battle that they won and throw towards the net before bouncing off goalie Matteo Lalama and in.

The Colts got none of those so-called “dirty goals,” when you drive to the net, get bodies in front and pounce on rebounds.

The Steelheads did and that was the difference.

“You got to learn to play those kind of games and be happy to win a 1-0 or 2-1 game,” Williamson said. “I thought we killed penalties well, that’s been one of our nemesis, so I thought we answered that a little bit.

“Again, it’s just a learning process.”

Earlier on Friday, the Colts shored up the crease in a big way with the acquisition of overage goaltender Mack Guzda from the Owen Sound Attack in return for a third-round pick in 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2022.

The fourth-year goaltender brings a wealth of experience and will be expected to carry the load.

“We’ve had rookie goalies in there that haven’t played in the league and now we got one of the most experienced goalies,” Williamson said. “Playing against him and seeing him, he’s a goalie that can make the big save and play steady in a game back there. That’ll help stabilize (the net).

“It’s just one of those things that our penalty kill has really struggled most of the year and the old saying is that your goaltender is your best penalty killer, so that should help in a lot of ways.”

Last night’s contest was also Brandt Clarke’s first since being named the captain earlier in the week. Nathan Allensen, Jacob Frasca and Ethan Cardwell were all officially named assistant captains.

“I think Clarkie has come in with a real good attitude,” Williamson said There’s maturity to him and he deserved the ‘C,’ and now I think he’ll lead as well.”

The Colts wrap up the weekend Saturday night when they return home to face another Central Division rival in the Niagara IceDogs.

The IceDogs, who have won two of three this season against Barrie, will be in feisty mood after getting blitzed 7-1 by Mississauga Thursday night at home.

“They play hard, they got the big line that scores a lot,” Williamson said of the IceDogs. “We had those 8-5, 7-4 games against them, so they give you some opportunities but we need to (be ready).

“They got beat 7-1 the other night and they’re going to want to play a better game, so we’re going to want to get right back after this one too.”

Game time at the Sadlon Arena is 7:30 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Barrie goalie Matthew Sbrocca cleared waivers on Friday and is waiting to see what he is going to do. “He’s got some options,” Williamson said. “Maybe to go out East. Summerside (Jr. A) talked to him.” . . . Hockey Canada will present Clarke with his IIHF U18 Championship game in a special pre-game ceremony before the game Saturday. Clarke helped Canada defeat Russia 5-3 in the gold medal game for its first tournament title since 2013. . . Import defenceman Artur Cholach (hit to head) made his return to the lineup since leaving the Oct. 28 contest against Sudbury.

Banner Image: Roman Basran made all 26 saves to record the shutout and lead the Mississauga Steelheads to a 3-0 win over the Barrie Colts, Friday night, in Mississauga. TERRY WILSON/OHL IMAGES