Published April 17, 2023

Colts drop Game 2 to the Troops, lose Vierling on a big hit

Series is all even up heading back to Barrie on Tuesday

The Colts are coming back to Barrie with home ice advantage, but they may be without their top scorer in the lineup.

The Battalion handed Barrie a 5-2 defeat Sunday afternoon North Bay Memorial Gardens to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series at 1-1, but Evan Vierling left the game late in the second period and never returned.

The dynamic overager, who led Barrie with 35 goals and 95 points this season, took what appeared to be an elbow to the head just inside the blueline from North Bay's Paul Christopoulos and went down.

A stretcher was brought out, but Vierling managed to get up and leave the ice with the aid of teammates.

Asked about his availability for Tuesday night's Game 3 in Barrie, Colts head coach Marty Williamson said his star centre's status remains up in the air.

"We won't know for a little bit," he said after the game.

Christopoulos was originally handed a five-minute major for the hit, but minutes later the penalty was wiped out and the Battalion defenceman received nothing for the hit.

"The comment was they said it was a clean hit," Williamson said of the explanation he received.

Colts veteran Connor Punnett said it wasn't easy seeing his teammate needing help off the ice.

"You hate to see a guy leaving the ice not moving too much. But again, it's part of the game. There's hitting, guys are going to get hurt, but you never ever want to see someone get hurt like that and you definitely don't want to see a teammate like that."

Punnett and his teammates thought they were going to get a lengthy power play out of the play.

"We thought he was getting five, but after a few minutes they obviously looked at it," he said. "They say it was a clean hit and once they make the call, we don't have any say. We thought they got away with one, but there's not much we can do about it."

Coming off Friday night's 3-2 overtime win in Game 1, the Colts got off to a good start just 43 seconds in when Beau Jelsma, parked in the slot, took a quick pass from Jacob Frasca and beat North Bay's Dom DiVincentiis.

The Troops, though, would come right back and tie it on Kyle McDonald's first of the game just 46 seconds later.

McDonald made it 2-1 less than seven minutes later and the Battalion were off to the races scoring four straight to take control on additional goals by Kyle Jackson late in the first and Liam Arnsby early in the second.

"I wasn't unhappy with our game," said Williamson, whose club took over the second half of the game and outshot North Bay 16-7 in the third. "We made some mistakes and they took big advantage of them. We got to get better that way, but we did a lot of good things."

A power-play marker by Frasca early in the third was as close as they would get. The Colts came close to getting it within one a few times, but Pasquale Zito iced the win an empty-net goal with just 41 seconds remaining.

Only Ottawa gave up fewer goals this season in the OHL and trying to rally from a three-goal deficit is no easy task against one of the league's top goalies in DiVincentiis.

"For sure," Williamson said of the Colts putting themselves in a tough position early. "They play a really good game and there's a reason they finished first (in the Central Division). They try to close out games. While we got the power-play goal, we got another and it would have been nice to get one there (in the third) and get it to 4-3, but we dug ourselves too deep a hole."

"They got up by three there and that's always tough to come back from," said Punnett. "We tried to come up with our best effort and tried as hard as we could and obviously we didn't come out on top."

Barrie comes home for the next two games and a chance to grab control of the series.

"We've had some big crowds and our home fans are always the best," Punnett said of the series returning to Barrie. "We had a good second half there. It's just a whole different environment playing at home.

"The fans are on our side, no travel, no staying at a hotel, you can sleep in your own bet and get a good sleep. Show up at the rink when you want, get into your own dressing room."

With the quick turnaround, Punnett said the Colts will have to put this one behind them and move on.

"We play again Tuesday and it's a short recovery and when we go back just have a light skate (Monday) and get ready to play on Tuesday," he said. "Anything can happen in playoff hockey. The games come fast and it's a different mentality when you get to playoffs. It's totally different.

"You play every second day and you just got to reset, be mentally tough and be ready to go for the next one."

Puck drop Tuesday night at Sadlon Arena is 7:30 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Barrie was 2-for-3 on the power-play, while the Troops went scoreless on their two chances. . . With an assist, Brandt Clarke has recorded a point all seven playoff games he's played. Add in 16 games with at least a point to finish the regular season and the Colts captain now has points in 23 straight games (18-35-53).

Photo Credit: JOSH KIM

What do you think of this article?

Have a breaking story?

Share it with us!
Share Your Story

What Barrie's talking about!

From breaking news to the best slice of pizza in town! Get everything Barrie’s talking about delivered right to your inbox every day. Don’t worry, we won’t spam you. We promise :)
Subscription Form
Consent Info

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Central Ontario Broadcasting, 431 Huronia Rd, Barrie, Ontario, CA, You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Related Stories