Published March 18, 2024

‘Mentally fatigued’ Colts drop their fifth straight game

Niagara snaps its 10-game losing streak with 3-0 win
‘Mentally fatigued’ Colts drop their fifth straight game

One could understand if the Barrie Colts wanted to skip the remaining four games of the regular season and rest up for the upcoming OHL playoffs.

The Colts, who have already punched their playoff ticket and are locked into eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings, are winding down a gruelling final month of the schedule and with six games over the final eight days there’s no rest for the weary.

A 3-0 loss Sunday afternoon to the Niagara IceDogs at the Meridian Centre extended the Colts’ losing streak to five games. With injuries starting to pile up, it’s more about getting through the stretch healthy and playing solid hockey.

“It’s important to have good habits,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson of what the team is looking to do over this final stretch. “We don’t want to get into some bad habits, but obviously we’re in a tough situation because we really can’t rest too many people. We don’t have enough bodies. With the couple of injuries we do have, we have got to play who we have and on the other hand staying healthy is important.

“We get a good two or three days of rest (after the regular season) and then have to gear up for a playoff series. We’ll get our energy back, but we have to get through this spell of six games in eight days.”

Williamson wasn’t disappointed with the effort he saw against Niagara. At times, the Colts have been running on a near-empty tank over this month, but he felt that wasn’t the case yesterday afternoon.

Though the coach admitted the busy stretch has certainly caught up to his team.

“I thought this game was more mental fatigue than it really was physical fatigue,” said Williamson, whose club will look to break the losing skid at home Tuesday night against these same IceDogs. “I thought our energy was pretty good, but we’re just not quite seeing things quick enough and didn’t have our ‘A’ game.

“Unfortunately, our ‘B’ game wasn’t good enough for us to get the win.”

The Colts (26-34-4-0) fired 30 shots and had plenty of good scoring chances in this one, but Niagara goalie Charlie Robertson was the difference.

After giving up 18 goals in three previous games, the former North Bay Battalion was at his best in recording his first shutout of the season.

“The kid played well in net, but we just couldn’t get pucks by him,” said Williamson. “We had a couple of breakaways, two-on-ones. All-in-all, it wasn’t a horrible energy game for us. I was expecting us to be a little more lacklustre.”

The OHL’s last-place club, the win snapped the IceDogs’ (17-40-6-1) ugly 10-game losing streak.

Niagara got all the offence it would need midway through the second period when the Colts turned the puck over at the IceDogs’ blue line and Ryan Roobroeck and captain Gavin Bryant raced all the way down the ice alone on Barrie goaltender Sam Hillebrandt.

Roobroeck slid the puck across to Bryant who fired it over the left pad of Hillebrandt for the winner. Bryant scored his second of the game and 21st of the season into an empty net with 36 seconds remaining before William Stewart completed the scoring just 25 seconds later.

“We played hard, we just couldn’t execute anything,” said Williamson.

 Already playing without one veteran forward, the Colts lost another when an undisclosed injury forced Zach Wigle to leave the game.

The news isn’t good on speedy winger Roenick Jodoin who left Thursday’s loss to Ottawa after getting in a tussle with 67’s six-foot-two, 197-pound Matthew Mayich.

Jodoin wrestled the bigger Ottawa defenceman to the ground, but in doing so appeared to hurt his shoulder and was in a sling after the game.

“He won’t play again as far as the regular season,” said Williamson. “We’re just crossing our fingers that maybe there’s an outside chance maybe we get him back in the playoffs, but he needs some time. It’s one of those injuries that there’s just nothing we can do about it.

“He’ll miss this stretch of games, and then we’ll see if he’s got a chance to start a series.”

With injuries piling up, the Colts called up prospect forward Cole Dubowsky to make his OHL debut.

The Sudbury native was a seventh-round pick of Barrie in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection after recording 12 goals and 14 assists for 26 points in 27 games for the U16 minor midget Nickel Capitals last year.

The six-foot-one, 175-pound left-winger had nine goals and 30 assists for 39 points in 36 games with the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s Stayner Siskins this season and has an assist in three playoff games.

“I thought he played pretty smart, pretty safe. I thought he did a good job for us,” Williamson said of Dubowsky. “He ate some minutes up in the first and second period and that was an important thing.

“I didn’t want to have to overuse guys with a short line up, so I thought Cole did a good job for us.”

With Wigle and Jodoin out, Dubowsky could see OHL action again soon.

“I think so,” said Williamson. “I’ve got an issue now with Wigle. He left the game and I got a feeling that he’s not going to be available, so Dubowsky might get himself into another game sooner than later.”

Game time Tuesday night at Sadlon Arena is 7 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Tuesday night’s contest is a rescheduled game after an ice issue forced the cancellation of the March 2nd game in Barrie. . . The Colts take to the road the next night in Owen Sound and then a trip to Sudbury on Friday night, before closing out the regular season Saturday night at home to the Peterborough Petes. . . It looks like the Colts will face Oshawa in the first round. The Generals can wrap up top spot in the conference with one win in their two remaining games. . . Barrie outshot Niagara 30-26. . . Former Colts Jason Willms and Kade Landry and Midhurst native Macauley Carson led the University of New Brunswick Reds to back-to-back University Cup titles with a 4-0 win over the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes, Sunday, in Toronto. The win completed a perfect season for the Reds who won all 47 games they played this season from the preseason to the championship final. 

banner image: Terry Wilson, OHL Images

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