Hillebrandt bounces back in crease to lead Colts past Windsor

Makes 31 saves after being pulled in 9-3 loss to London last Saturday

Sam Hillebrandt took it on the chin in last Saturday’s 9-3 loss to the London Knights, but the Barrie Colts goaltender put that in the rearview mirror on Thursday night.

The rookie turned aside 31 of 32 shots and bounced back with one of his stronger performances of the season to help the Colts end a two-game losing skid with a 4-1 win over the Windsor Spitfires at Sadlon Arena.

“Going back on the London game, for sure we wanted to have some revenge and kind of have a better game after that,” said Hillebrandt, who was pulled after two periods when he gave up eight goals to the Knights on 35 shots.

Hillebrandt dusted that loss off quickly much like earlier this month in Ottawa when he gave up four goals on 19 shots and was pulled 8:01 into the second period.

In his next start, he would turn aside 31 shots to lead Barrie to a 3-1 win over the Central Division-leading Mississauga Steelheads.

“No matter what happens the previous game, you just got to forget about it,” said Hillebrandt, who turned aside 13 shots in the first period and staved off an early push by Windsor last night. “Whether you give up eight goals or one goal, you just got to focus on the next one.”

Hillebrandt held the fort early as Barrie (11-11) got off to a 2-0 start on goals by Tai York and Eduard Sale.

“He’s really got the great mentality for a goalie that has played good almost every game this year other than maybe those two,” Colts head coach Marty Williamson said of his 18-year-old goalie who was named the game’s first star. “He’s been the best coming right back off a rough game and even those games we can’t blame him, we played so poorly in front of him.

“We played a little bit better in front of him tonight, and he did his job really well.”

Liam Greentree, who sits fourth overall in OHL scoring with 35 points in 22 games, scored his 17th of the season 4:01 into the second to cut the Barrie lead to one.

Windsor (6-18-1-0) had few good chances in the third, but empty-net goals by Chris Grisolia, his first of the season, and Cole Beaudoin put the game away.

“I was a little disappointed in the first period when I thought we weren’t on our game and gave up a little more than we wanted to, but we tightened up really well in the second,” said Williamson. “I told them if we could keep playing that way, we could kind of take this thing over. We had a pretty solid third too.”

The Colts’ defence also got a big boost with the return of Olivier Savard, who had missed the last three games after being hit in the mouth with a shot in a game against Niagara two weeks ago.

Savard had to have major dental work and also suffered a concussion. Hillebrandt was certainly happy to see his teammate back in the lineup.

“Having him back is good. He has so much experience,” said the Riverview, FL. native. “It’s so tough on the younger guys, (playing their) third or fourth game in the league compared to him.”

With injuries to Beau Akey and Savard, and Jack Brauti suspended, the Colts had to face the Knights with just five defencemen.

Savard’s return gave the Colts a full compliment back there and was also a welcome site for Williamson.

“It’s huge,” said the Colts bench boss. “It’s great having him back. He lugged a lot of ice, more than I thought we were going to give him, but we kind of had to. We get Brauti back for the weekend, which will help and kind of get the six (regulars) going.”

The Colts head out on the road for a tough 2-game northern swing this weekend, beginning Friday night in Sudbury.

Expected to be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, the Wolves (12-10-1-0) are off to a slow start but only Kitchener, London and the Sault Ste. Marie have scored more goals this season.

“We know Sudbury has got a lot of weapons and that kind of stuff, but we can play anyone hard if we play that way,” said Williamson, whose club wraps up the weekend against the West Division leading Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Saturday night. “It’s still not clicking chemistry wise offensively. I think there’s more chances there for us if we can see things a little bit better that way. Some guys are forcing the game a little and it’s we just got to get a little more fluid offensively but play that kind of way defensively.

“This is a good way to start the weekend as opposed to having to hop on a bus and play those two teams up in their buildings coming off a loss.”

Game time at the Sudbury Community Arena is 7:05 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Game time Saturday at GFL Memorial Gardens is 7:07 p.m. . . . Brauti returns from his two-games slew footing suspension tonight in Sudbury. . . Windsor goalie Joey Constanza stopped 20 of 22 shots he faced. . . Cole Beaudoin also added an assist to his ninth goal and now has 3 goals and 5 assists for eight points in his last eight games. . . Sale also added a helper and has 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points in his last 11 games.

banner image – Terry Wilson/OHL Images