Barrie Colts use balanced attack to stave off Wolves 4-1

Beau Akey scored his first OHL goal in the win

A balanced attack has the Barrie Colts playing some of their best hockey of this season and moving up the OHL standings.

Four different players scored for Barrie and Mack Guzda had another strong effort in goal to power the Colts to a 4-1 win over the Sudbury Wolves, Tuesday night, at Sadlon Arena.

Beau Akey, with his first OHL goal, Nathan Allensen, Beau Jelsma, and Hunter Haight, shorthanded, scored for Barrie (17-8-3), which has now won eight of its last 10 games to move into fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings, just three points behind the North Bay Battalion.

Evan Konyen had the lone goal for the Wolves (10-19-3-1).

Guzda, who was playing in his 150 OHL game, made 31 saves to improve his record to 8-2 since being acquired from Owen Sound.

The Colts aren’t relying on one line to carry the load. Instead, they are getting contributions from different players up and down the lineup every night and that’s exactly how Colts general manager and head coach Marty Williamson wants it.

“It’s the way we’re kind of built,” said Williamson, who rolled all four lines in the win over the Wolves.  “We’re not a heavy one-line team. We really think we got good balance and that’s how we want to play.

“We want to be relentless and have somebody chip in. It seems to be different guys every game for us, so it’s great.”

From veterans to rookies like Akey, everyone is finding a way to hit the scoresheet.

“We have a really complete team,” said the Colts first-round pick (20 overall) in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection. “Even in North Bay (an 8-2 win) everyone was scoring, every line. It helps a lot.”

Akey’s first goal will be one he’ll long remember. It came on a beauty cross-ice pass from Declan McDonnell a little past the midway point of the first to tie it at 1-1.

Streaking down the left side, the rookie took the feed and wired a drive over the glove hand of Sudbury goalie Mitchell Weeks into the top corner.

“It felt good to get one under my belt.” the 16-year-old said.

Akey’s development has taken a big step since returning in early December from the 2021 Capital City U17 Hockey Challenge in Ottawa where he led Canada Black to a silver medal finish.

Akey admits he’s playing with more confidence since returning.

“The U17 program made feel a little bit more pro with all the schedules and stuff,” the Waterloo native said. “I felt a lot more confident playing with guys my age and I brought it (here) to the OHL.”

Williamson was happy to see his young defender finally rewarded.

“It sure is,” the coach said. “The guys were razzing him, but I think he’s done a really good job. A lot of credit goes to (associate coach Chris Dennis) with bringing that blue line along.

“As an ’05 (birthdate) playing as much ice time as good as we feel about putting him out there in situations, it’s a real credit to him and also to Chris.”

Barrie took control of this one when Allensen and Jelsma scored 1:10 apart a little more than two minutes into the second period.

“I liked our first period,” Williamson said. “Even the goal we gave up was a bit of a turnover along the boards and then just a good play by them to get a break off a rebound. We stuck to it and a nice goal by Akey to kind of get the period even.

“We were happy, we were playing fast and I thought our speed was very good and it just carried into the second.

With three more home games ahead of them this week, including key matchups against North Bay and Hamilton on the weekend, Williamson made it a point to remind his team not to look past a young, but talented Wolves team.

“We kind of talked about that in our morning skate,” he said. “I wasn’t real happy how the team played in the Mississauga game (a 3-1 loss) and the North Bay game even though we got rewarded with a big power-play performance in North Bay. Our five-on-five game wasn’t as sharp as it should be, so we needed to get back on track and I think our guys got really focused and did a good job tonight.

“Now we’ve got to maintain that. It’s the same kind of game with Owen Sound (on Thursday). They play hard, they play a balanced attack and you need to just not get outworked by them. That’s the main thing to start with and hopefully we can impose our game on them.”

The Colts are also hoping to take advantage of the stretch of games on home ice this week. While the Colts have posted a league-best 10-2-1 record on the road, they are just 7-6-2 at Sadlon Arena.

“Our away record is a lot better than at home, but I think we’re feeling a little more comfortable here now,” Akey said.

Game time Thursday against the Attack is 7:30 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: McDonnell also made an impressive play in setting up Jelsma’s goal. The play of the veteran forward, acquired from Kitchener, hasn’t gone unnoticed by the coaching staff. “Mac has been a great boost of energy for our hockey team,” Williamson said of the Tampa prospect who now has a goal and five assists in six games with Barrie. “Beside that, there was a couple of impact hits. He’s been a real nice fit with our guys.” . . . Ethan Cardwell recorded a pair of assists to run his point streak to four games (4-4-8). . . Barrie outshot Sudbury, 35-32.