Luke Bignell admits the Barrie Colts were running on fumes when they headed into the second intermission Saturday night locked in a 2-2 draw with the Kingston Frontenacs.
Playing their third game in three nights and with just three forward lines, the Colts emptied the tank in the third period and despite giving up an early goal, rallied for a 5-3 win over the Frontenacs at Sadlon Arena.
“It was our third game in a three-in-three and all the boys were tired, but we came in after the second period tied and we said, ‘Let’s put it all out on the ice, we got nothing left this weekend,'” said Bignell, who had a goal and assist in the win. “We went out there and played our hearts out and got the two points.”
It was the fifth win for the Colts (21-21-3-2) in their last six games. They have collected 11 out of possible 12 points on their recent hot stretch and moved into a fifth-place tie in the Eastern Conference standings with the Mississauga Steelheads, just four points behind the Sudbury Wolves atop the Central Division.
“Kingston got some bounces early on, but we battled back,” Bignell said. “We’re getting a taste of winning and I think the boys like it. We’re working harder for it every day and we want to keep on winning.”
Things certainly didn’t start well for the Colts in third. Martin Chromiak scored just 11 seconds in to put Kingston ahead and the visitors would also go to the power play as Aidan Brown was nabbed for high sticking.
Barrie would kill off the Frontenacs man advantage and go to work. Rookie Brandt Clarke, with his sixth point in the last two games, buried a rebound in front off an Ethan Cardwell shot to tie it at 6:57.
Evan Vierling potted the game-winner just 20 seconds later when he took a pass from Tyson Foerster in front, allowed Kingston defender Lucas Peric to slide by and then dragged the puck inside before beating goaltender Christian Propp on the short side.
The highlight-reel goal ran Vierling’s scoring streak to nine games (4-9-13) and the former second overall pick by Flint in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection now has four goals and 14 points in 12 since coming to Barrie at the trade deadline.
“What patience,” Colts head coach Todd Miller said Vierling showed on the winner. “Playing with Foerster doesn’t hurt, but what a player. Evan is coming into his own. As he gets stronger, he’s going to be a real dominant force.
“That line itself will be back next year too. That’s a pretty darn good line, but I’m really happy for him. That’s nine straight games with a point, so I’m happy for him. I like to see the smile on his face.”
Brown would give Barrie some breathing room at 12:57 on a fortunate break when the puck bounced off the backboards right in front to the overager, who beat a surprised Propp.
“I didn’t think we played well for two periods,” Miller said. “I said just play the way we played the last six games before that and just simplify, get it deep, go to work on their defence and good things are going to happen.
“Even though they scored (early in the third), we were still set on what we were going to do. How we were going to get it deep and we knew we were going to get our chances.”
With 40 shots on Arturs Silovs, the Frontenacs (14-28-2-2) had plenty of their own scoring chances, especially in the second, but the Barrie goaltender continued his second-half resurgence and made several outstanding saves to keep his team in the game.
“He’s playing so well,” Miller said of the Vancouver Canucks prospect, who has won three of his last four starts and has given up just eight goals on 138 shots during the stretch. “The last couple of weeks have been a whole different ball game. Both (Jet Greaves and Silovs) are playing really well, but Silovs obviously last couple of games has been outstanding. I think he’s rolling now. “We’re defending better in front of him, so we’re giving ourselves a better chance. I don’t know about tonight in the first two periods, but overall the last six games we’re defending better. We’re letting him see pucks and we’re not getting in his way and that’s the biggest thing. It makes the game a lot easier for him.”
Cardwell, with his seventh in 11 games since coming over from Saginaw in a trade, had the other Barrie goal. Young phenom Shane Wright, the first overall selection of the Frontenacs this season and only the sixth underage player to be granted special status in OHL history, scored twice in the first period.
“I think we’ll have a couple of days off for the guys here,” Miller said. “It’s well needed.”
Barrie returns to action Thursday night when they host Mississauga. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Tyson Foerster, who drew a pair of assists in the win, is also on a nine-game scoring streak (8-7-15) Nicholas Porco (suspension), Nathan Allensen (suspension), Ryan Del Monte (wrist), Matthew Sredl (shoulder) and Vladislav Dvurechenskii did not dress for Barrie…The Colts were 2-for-4 on the power play, while Kingston was scoreless on three chances.
feature image of Evan Vierling courtesy Terry Wilson/OHL Images