Published February 21, 2023

Haché makes first trip back to Kingston with Colts a winning one

Veteran records assist in 4-0 shutout victory
Haché makes first trip back to Kingston with Colts a winning one

An afternoon game day in Kingston was a lot different this time around for Braden Haché.

The last few years the rugged defenceman would wake up early morning on game day and go to the rink. Then he and his teammates would head over to Morrison's Restaurant in Kingston for breakfast, before heading home for a pre-game nap and then back to Leon's Centre.

On Monday morning, Haché instead found himself on a bus with his Barrie Colts teammates and when he arrived at the rink, the former Kingston Frontenacs veteran was heading to the visitor's dressing room.

"Obviously it was a little bit weird. You're not allowed in parts of the building that you spent the last four years in," said Haché, who celebrated his first trek back to Kingston since being acquired by Barrie at the trade deadline with a 4-0 win over his former team. "It was a little weird, but I just tried to stay true to the game plan.

"I knew I had a game to play and obviously a rink I played in a lot, so there's a sense of comfortability there."

As much as it was good to come back and see familiar faces in the building he has spent the majority of his junior career in, Haché got what he and his teammates wanted.

"It was a big game for us," said the 19-year-old seventh-round pick of the Florida Panthers in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. "Falling short to North Bay (4-2 loss on Saturday), it was a big game for confidence for us and I think we showed that we don't quit throughout the game.

"It was 0-0 for the majority of the game, but we showed a lot of heart and just stayed comfortable knowing that we were going to come out with the win."

Barrie (31-15-6-2), on the strength of a power play that came to life late, scored four times in the third period to break a scoreless draw and move to within five points of North Bay atop the Central Division standings.

The Battalion lost 3-2 in overtime in Ottawa on Monday.

"Falling short to North Bay, we knew we had a task at hand today," said Haché. "We had to come in and get the two points and that's what we were here for. We didn't take the bus three hours here today to not get the two points and bring them home.

"It's good, we're building as a team and we're going to be ready to go when the playoffs begin."

With Barrie on the power play, Beau Jelsma deflected a Brandt Clarke point shot that was first tipped in front by Jacob Frasca for the game-winner just 1:05 into the third.

Chris Grisolia doubled the lead almost midway through the frame when he banged home a Clarke rebound, before power-play goals by Jelsma and Akey, just 19 seconds apart, put this one away.

"They did," Colts head coach Marty Williamson said of the power play getting things going in the third. "We had to change everything around with Vierling not being in, so I think it took a little bit.

"We were talking to them between each period and trying to fine-tune things, and I thought we got real, real efficient when we needed them to."

The Colts got some bad news when they arrived at the rink Monday. Evan Vierling, who has been red-hot with six goals and eight points in the last three games, felt ill and had to be scratched.

"He got sick as he got off the bus," said Williamson. "So his parents came and picked him up, so I don't have him on the bus going back.

"He just started to feel real ill. I don't know if it's food or flu, or something, but he was pretty pale."

While he didn't see much action, Ben West stopped all 22 shots in goal for Barrie to record his first OHL shutout.

"He was solid in there," said Williamson. "We had the one little giveaway early in the game and other than that he did what we needed him to do. He did a good job."

As did the Barrie blueline, which gave up few quality chances to Kingston.

"I thought our blueline played real well," said Williamson, who felt there was room for improvement there after the loss to North Bay. "I had kind of a confidence throughout the game. I was pretty happy with our game. I know we missed some chances, but they're going to come around if you play three periods like that.

"We played pretty solid periods, and obviously we were rewarded in the third."

Kingston (24-26-1-2) hung around in this one, thanks in large part to the play of goaltender Mason Vaccari. The rookie goalie stopped 41 of 45 shots.

"He's a good goalie, and it's the same thing, the first goal was traffic, and we needed to give him more of that," said Williamson. "We talked about it and a couple of our early plays were on two-on-ones, and we were shooting and not passing.

"I thought we made a better effort to make that next pass and make life a little tougher on Vaccarri and that he wasn't squaring everything and that he had to move."

The Colts return home this week to host Erie on Thursday and Oshawa on Saturday, before wrapping up the weekend Sunday afternoon in Niagara.

"We just got to keep playing like we played today," Williamson said of trying to track down North Bay.

The loss to North Bay was "disappointing," but Williamson knows it was important for his team to bounce back and compared it to an analogy he heard used on a recent golf broadcast.

"They had an analogy of 'don't get bitter, get better' and that was kind of our talk for this game," he said. "We need to continue to get better. I thought North Bay challenged us in some ways and showed us some things that we have to get better in and those are good lessons that will pay off.

"Even though we didn't get the win and wanted it, don't get bitter just better."

ICE CHIPS: Barrie finished 3-for-8 on the power play. . . Tyler Savard, who has been out with concussion issues since taking a hit in North Bay on Feb. 12, missed his fourth game. "We've heard good news," said Williamson on the power forward. "He actually wanted to play (Monday), but we just determined that he practice first before he goes in. He'll be back for Erie." . . . Captain Brandt Clarke ran his point streak (1-6-7) to four games with three assists in the win over Kingston. The Kings prospect now has 11 goals and 33 points in 19 games.

banner image: Terry Wilson, OHL Images

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