Colts blow lead as struggles continue in loss to Sudbury

Barrie has dropped six of its last seven games

The Barrie Colts got the start they wanted Sunday afternoon at the Sudbury Community Arena. The finish, on the other hand, was another matter.

The Colts bolted out to a 3-1 lead after the first period, but couldn’t hang on as the host Wolves scored four unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 victory.

“I thought we bit ourselves in the foot in that second period with that 3-1 lead,” Colts assistant coach Todd Miller said of the middle frame when the Wolves scored a pair to even things up. “We came out hard (in the first) and battled, forechecked good and got pucks to the net. All of a sudden in that second period a couple of mistakes by a couple of our guys, easy pucks that we could have got out of our end, and they’re in the back of our net and it’s a 3-3 game.

“We didn’t have many shots in the second, so we were kind of playing on our heels. I thought in the first we were great and in the third we had our chances with our power play. After we killed off a couple of theirs, we had lots of responsive power-play time and we just couldn’t bury one. (Matej) Pekar missed an empty net and (Luke) Bignell hit the post there late.”

Tyler Tucker, with a pair, and Pekar scored for Barrie (13-11-1-1), which has now dropped three straight and six of its last seven games.

David Levin, with a pair, Isaak Phillips, Shane Bulitka, and Quinton Byfield, into an empty net, scored for the Wolves (18-11-1-0), who have now moved nine points ahead of the Colts atop the Central Division standings.

Barrie has dropped all three games in Sudbury this season. They visit the Big Nickel once more on Jan. 3rd, before the Colts host the final four regular season meetings between the two rivals.

“That was a rough one today,” Miller said. “We thought we had them. We go there four times before they come to us once, so we definitely want to get this next one…Sudbury is a team we play eight times and you can’t be giving those away.”

Tied 3-3 heading into the third, the Wolves got the game-winner just 1:13 in. Byfield slid the puck back into the slot to Levin and the former first overall pick cut across the net and slid it under a falling Arturs Silovs.

The Colts would have five power plays in the final period, but couldn’t beat Sudbury goaltender Christian Purboo and come up with the equalizer. Barrie would finish 0 for 8 with the man advantage and now sit 18th overall with a dismal 17.5 per cent success rate.

Getting the power play going will be important if the Colts want to break out of this funk they’re in.

“Guys are forcing things that aren’t there and that’s why what we got to work on this week because our power play can be key for us, especially being short bodies,” said Miller, whose club is still missing regulars Ryan Suzuki (eye), Jacob Frasca (mono) and Nicholas Porco (mono) from the lineup. “When we get our chances, we’ve got to be able to execute them and bury them.

“When you’re not doing that, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable.”

With the shortage of forwards, the club called up Collingwood Colts prospect Vladislav Dvurchenskii for his OHL debut.

“I thought he played well for the shifts he got,” Miller said of the big six-foot-three, 208-pound winger who was a fifth-round pick in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.

The Colts will remain on the road this week with another pair of tough stops in Kingston on Friday night and the nation’s capital on Saturday afternoon. The Frontenacs started the season with one win in their first 18 games, but have won seven of 10 since. Ottawa has won nine of its last 10 games and is tied with Peterborough for first overall in the OHL standings.

“We got some sickness through our lineup, so I think we’re going to have a little bit of a rest here and then get back at it middle of next week to make sure we’re focused and ready for Kingston,” Miller said. “We know they’re coming. They’ve won seven of their last 10 beating some pretty good teams, so we’re not going to underestimate them at all.”

banner image via Terry Wilson/OHL Images