Jelsma OT winner downs Knights, hands Colts fourth-straight win

Colts move to within five points of Mississauga for fourth place in conference

On a night where Tyson Foerster demonstrated why he’s spent most of the last two seasons playing pro hockey, rookie Beau Jelsma showed why he could join his teammate there some day.

Foerster scored three times, but it was Jelsma, a prospect for this year’s NHL Entry Draft in July, who brought the house down when he scored with 1:11 remaining in overtime to give the Barrie Colts a 5-4 win over the London Knights, Saturday night, in front 3,844 fans at Sadlon Arena.

Rated 137th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm draft rankings, Jelsma teamed up with teammate Nathan Allensen to help draw the loudest eruption from fans inside the Barrie rink since the COVID-19 pandemic began two years ago.

The Colts rookie left the puck for Allensen inside the blueline and then took off for the net where Allensen found him with a cross-the-slot pass that Jelsma fired under the blocker of London goalie Own Flores for his 26th of the season.

The beauty setup by Allensen also made amends for the overager’s giveaway behind his own net that led to Landon Sim’s goal that tied it 3-3 midway through the third.

“I’ve seen Jelsma score those before off those passes,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson. “I thought it was a great pass by Allensen and he really made the play. It was great patience to let Jelsma get up there and get into position and then put it on his stick.

“It was a nice job. We made a couple of mistakes in our own zone. It was nice to see those guys make up for it.”

Ethan Cardwell, with his fifth in the last four games, also scored for the Colts (33-21-5-1), who have won four straight and moved to within five points of Mississauga for fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

Barrie still holds four games in hand on the Central Division rivals with eight games remaining.

“They’re competitive guys,” Williamson said of his team’s determination to catch Mississauga. “We think we kind of messed up a little bit and just been hurt with all the stuff (injuries and suspensions) and we can be a team higher in the standings.

“These wins give us an opportunity to move up in the standings and that’s always your goal.”

Ruslan Gazizov, Luke Evangelista, with his league-leading 53rd, and Isaiah George also scored for the Knights (37-19-5-1), who dropped their third straight.

Jelsma wasn’t the lone Barrie hero on this night.

Foerster, playing in just his fifth game since being sent back from the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms after spending the last five months recovering from a shoulder injury, put on a show.

He opened the scoring just 4:35 into the game on a pretty setup by Hunter Haight.

The Colts rookie took a cross-ice feed from Foerster on the backhand before spinning around returning the favour on cross-crease pass that the Philadelphia Flyers 2020 first-round pick tapped in.

Foerster then showed off his big shot past the midway point of the first to put Barrie up, 2-1. He weaved his way into the slot in front of the London goal and then spun around and wired a shot top corner over the right shoulder of Flores.

After Sim helped get the Knights even things up in the third after being down 3-1, Foerster stepped up again.

The big winger picked the pocket of defenceman Kirill Steklov just inside the Knights’ blueline and raced in to beat Flores to complete the hat trick.

Big players come up big in big games and that’s what Foerster did on this night.

“When he’s on his game, he’s on a different level,” Williamson said of Foerster. “He’s now getting comfortable with our guys. We know it’s an adjustment for these guys when they come back.

“He’s really been in pro for two years and that was the big challenge to him, to keep his game at a pro level and don’t come down to junior hockey (level).”

He’s also been a leader on and off the ice.

“His attitude has been great,” the Colts head coach added. “He’s been outstanding with our young guys and besides the good stuff on the ice, what a presence he’s had on our bench. The things he says are bang on in practice and in the dressing room. You know he’s a good player and he’s going to give us all that.”

Foerster now has four goals and an assist in his first five games back after being off for five months. Williamson didn’t know his big winger that well, but he’s quickly seeing just how special he is.

“You never know when guys come back from pro if they’re going to be disappointed and he’s anything but disappointed,” said the head coach. “He’s having fun.”

As exciting as a contest it was for fans, both teams were sloppy at times. Turnovers on both sides led to most of the goals.

” It’s that kind of thing where we may be overplaying some guys a little bit and the mistakes are kind of happening, but we never gave up,” said Williamson, who had seven regulars out of the lineup.

“It wasn’t a perfect game, but the bench was good, our attitude was good, we didn’t get on each other for mistakes and that kind of stuff. Sometimes you got to work through tough games.”

The Colts will have little time to rest after this one. They’re back at it Sunday afternoon in North Bay.

“We got a tough turnaround on a bus at 8 a.m. to head to North Bay, so we’ll see what we got in the tank tomorrow,” said Williamson.

Game time is 2 p.m.ICE CHIPS: With starting goalie Mack Guzda still injured and Matteo Lalama having played the last two games, rookie Nolan Chartrand will make his second start. Chartrand made his OHL debut in North Bay on March 20. . . Lalama made 25 saves to pick up his 10th win of the season. Flores stopped 30 of 35 shots. . . Cardwell, Allensen and Haight each had two assists. . . Barrie’s Kevin Niedenz celebrated his 19th birthday on Saturday.

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