The Barrie Colts stumbled out of the gate against the Erie Otters on Saturday night and paid the price for it.
A third-period rally was too little, too late as the visiting Otters built a 4-0 lead after two periods and hung on for a 4-2 win in front of 3,892 disappointed fans at the Colts Centre.
With both clubs playing their first game of the week thanks to a light schedule to make room for the 2019 Canada Russia Series, Barrie came out flat and looked little like the club that had won five of its previous six games.
“It really hurt us,” Colts head coach Warren Rychel said of the poor start. “Tough start and no excuses. Both teams haven’t played for a long time because of the Russia series. We were flat and should have been a lot better coming out. We had no discipline and they outworked us, they outplayed us, they outcoached us.”
“There were a better team than us tonight. We showed a little bit of life (in the third period), but it was too little, too late.”
Playing short a man in the lineup and with six regulars out was no problem on this night for the Otters (9-6-1-2), who got a power-play marker from Hayden Fowler 9:42 into the first period and never really looked back after that thanks to a strong 42-save performance in goal by Daniel Murphy.
Austin Swankler, Maxim Golod and Daniel Singer also scored for the Otters, who gave up few quality chances through the opening 40 minutes.
“They worked harder and they won the battles,” Rychel said of the visitors. “We didn’t protect pucks, they won all the foot races. They’re playing good hockey. I watched their last game on tape and it was similar to (this). They were on us quick.”
Nicholas Porco, making his home debut since being acquired along with Ian Lemieux in a deal from Saginaw last week, potted his first as a Colts when he tipped in a Tyson Foerster shot just 3:46 into the third.
That, along with three power-play chances, brought the Barrie attack to life. Still it wasn’t enough. Luke Bignell cut the lead in half with a minute remaining, but the damage had been done.
“Our big guys weren’t very good,” Rychel said. “That’s why I gave the kids some more ice time in the third and it was better.”
Singer’s late second-period marker that made it 4-0 was the back breaker.
“That was a killer,” Rychel admitted.
Arturs Silovs, who appears to have grabbed the No. 1 job in goal having started six of the last seven games in net for Barrie, was replaced by Jet Greaves to start the third after giving up four goals on 20 shots.
“We hung our goalie out to dry on a couple of tic-tac-toe plays that no one could have stopped,” added the Barrie coach. “It was disappointing, but it’s only one game. Still it pulls at you because we weren’t ready to play.”
The Colts next game isn’t until Thursday night when they kick off a three-game weekend with a home date against the Owen Sound Attack, before entertaining the Peterborough Petes on Saturday and wrapping up the weekend on the road Sunday afternoon against the North Bay Battalion.
That’ll mean Barrie will have only played one contest in the last 12 days and Rychel will make sure he gets his team’s full attention in practice this week to prevent another flat start on Thursday night.
“First of all, we’ve got to practice a lot better. With purpose,” he said. “It’s good to practice smart and you got to be ready on time. It is coaching, but a lot of guys have to take leadership in the room and take ownership in having good starts here. Working hard for your goalie and feeding off the home crowd.”
ICE CHIPS: Ryan Suzuki missed his second-straight game and remains week-to-week suffering an eye injury in last Saturday’s win in Saginaw. . . Collingwood native Emmett Sproule drew an assist for Erie and now has five goals and 12 points in 18 games this season. . . Foerster’s assist ran his point streak to 10 games (9-8-18).