Barrie Colts bounce back with 8-2 romp over Battalion

Cardwell continues hot hand with three-point effort

Ethan Cardwell is heating up on the scoresheet of late and the Barrie Colts winger joked a little bit of the credit should go to video coach Zach Olmstead.

“He’s been taping my stick the last few games, so maybe that has something to do with it,” Cardwell said after recording a goal and two assists in an 8-2 thrashing of the host North Bay Battalion on Sunday afternoon.

After a slow start to the season, the San Jose Sharks prospect now has four goals and six points in his last three games.

“I’m a big believer in just sticking to the process. Kind of wait things out and good things are going to happen,” said Cardwell, who now has eight goals and 24 points in 25 games this season. “I’m just sticking to my game plan and trying to play the game that I want to play every night.”

The Colts were looking for the 19-year-old forward to be a big part of their offence this season after recording 23 goals two years ago and know they’ll need him to produce at a good pace if they are going to finish the year strong.

“He is (a big part of our offence),” said Colts associate coach Chris Dennis, who ran things behind the Barrie bench in Sunday’s win for an under the weather Marty Williamson who stayed home. “He’s really starting to play his game and (doing) what’s going to make him successful for our team and his career going forward like when he’s skating, hard on pucks and stopping and starting.

“He’s a handful and he created a goal pretty much on his own (today) and was really good in all situations. It’s nice to see him coming.”

Cardwell’s name was one that popped up during OHL trade deadline rumours this month. He’s been dealt once at the deadline in his career when the Colts acquired him two years ago from Saginaw, but he’s made an effort to not let all that bother him.

“You’re used to it,” he said. “You’re going to see tweets all over Twitter and you’re going to see this and hear that, so you kind of have to zone it out and worry about your own game, and then wherever you land you try to win your best.

“I’m super happy to be staying as a Colt and us moving on as a team.”

Anthony Tabak, with a pair of goals and two assists, and Brandt Clarke, with a goal and three helpers, each had four points to power the Colts (16-8-3), who moved to within five points of the Battalion (18-12-2-2) and second place in the Central Division standings.

Brandt Clarke’s four-point effort gave the OHL’s leading scorer among defencemen eight points in his last five games. Terry Wilson- OHL Images

Barrie still holds seven games in hand on its division rivals.

“They are (big division games) and I think our guys are recognizing that and welcoming the challenge,” Dennis said. “They’re looking forward to these games. I thought it was a good, gritty performance. That’s a talented team at the other end and I thought we played as well as we could.”

Ben Pickell, with his first OHL goal, Ryan Del Monte, Beau Jelsma, and Nathan Allensen also scored for the Colts, who went five-for-six on the power play and bounced back from a 3-1 loss at home to Mississauga where they mustered little offence.

“The powerplay’s been here nor there at times this year. We’ve been up and down, kind of struggling at times,” Cardwell said of Barrie’s power play, which is now ranked eighth overall (24 per cent). “Personally for me, Tabak and (Evan) Vierling we haven’t found our stride on the power play, so it was nice to connect for a few (today) and get the boys rolling in the right direction after a game where we just got shut down all over the ice (Saturday) night.

“A little bit flat, but we had a good bounce back. We’re an explosive offence and we showed that.”

Dennis thought the Colts got off to a bit of a slow start in this one, but felt an “excellent” power play helped them take over the game.

“(Sunday) might have been a little bit of a makeup for all the good things we’ve been doing,” Dennis said of the power play.

Matvey Petrov and Brandon Coe scored North Bay, which has won just three out of its last 10 games.

Barrie’s busy schedule continues Tuesday night when it hosts the Sudbury Wolves at Sadlon Arena.

While Sudbury looked to the future at the trade deadline, moving NHL prospects Jack Thompson (Sault Ste. Marie) and Chase Stillman (Peterborough) along with veteran Giordano Biondi (Hamilton), they responded with two wins since.

“They had a good weekend, and we can’t take anyone lightly,” Cardwell said of the Wolves. “It’s a tough league and the top junior league in the world for a reason, so we got to battle every night.”

The Wolves boast a young, talented offence led by the likes of David Goyette, Quentin Musty, Alex Pharand and Kocha Delic.

“They’ve got a good young team that maybe has had a little pressure relieved here, and they had a great weekend after the trade deadline,” Dennis said. “They got some really elite talent upfront, and we’re going to have to be ready to manage pucks and defend well to make sure they don’t make us pay.”

Game time is 7:30 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Clarke’s four points gave him eight points in his last five games. He leads all defencemen in scoring with six goals and 32 points. “He sure is,” Dennis said when asked if the Kings prospect is a difference-maker. “When he’s doing that, being responsible defensively, which I thought he was for the most part tonight, he’s a real special player. I’m really happy for the game he had, and he’s really starting to complete himself as a player here.” . . . Declan McDonnell had another strong effort. The Tampa Bay prospect had three assists and now has 1 goal and three helpers in three games since being acquired from Kitchener last week. . . Mack Guzda made 23 saves in net to earn the win and now has seven win in nine games with Barrie. . . Tabak played in his 200 career game on Saturday against Mississauga.