Published March 6, 2024

Wigle, Jelsma team up in overtime to lead Colts past Peterborough 5-4

Duo combines for two goals, five points to move Barrie nine points up in race for playoff berth
Wigle, Jelsma team up in overtime to lead Colts past Peterborough 5-4

Zach Wigle scored the overtime winner in an important 5-4 win over the host Petes Tuesday night at the Peterborough Memorial Centre, but the Barrie Colts veteran wasn’t pulling any punches as to who deserved all the credit.

“I’m going to be completely honest,” said Wigle describing his second goal in one of Barrie’s most important games of the season. “I watched Jelsma go end to end and beat two guys, and I just kind of stood in front and he passed me the puck.”

Wigle says it’s always a good plan, especially right now with the Colts captain on a 12-game scoring streak (12-11-23), to just give Jelsma the puck.

“It seems to work most of the time, to be completely honest” said Wigle,” laughing out loud. “Even on the bench, because I bobbled it the shift before, I was like ‘I’m giving you the puck, and I’ll go to the net,’ and it ended up working out.”

Jelsma finished the contest with three assists and more importantly, helped Barrie (25-29-3-0) increase its lead on Peterborough (18-33-7-1) to nine points in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Colts, who have 11 games remaining in the regular season, also hold two games in hand on the Petes.

Both teams will meet once more, in Barrie on March 23.

“We’ve been watching their interviews and their media stuff and their whole goal was to catch us, so it really feels good to put an extra point between us and them,” said Wigle, who now has a career-high 18 goals on the season. “Hopefully we can keep building on it.”

The defending OHL champion Petes are in a heavy rebuild and the Colts knew a win would deal Peterborough’s hopes of catching them a severe blow.

“We really wanted this game badly,” said Barrie associate coach Phillip Barski. “This was an important game for us. We looked at as a four-point playoff game. If we would have lost, it would have made things a lot tighter down the stretch here.

“Not to say that it’s still not important how we play over the last 11 games here, but this was a real big win for our group and moving forward.”

A first-period power-play goal by Caden Taylor had the Petes on top, but second-period goals by Kyle Morey, his first as a Colt, Michael Derbidge and Tai York gave Barrie control heading into the third.

A desperate Petes team, though, would fight back twice in final frame to force overtime.

Braydon McCallum and Tommy Purdeller scored less than four minutes apart early in the period to tie at 3-3.

Wigle would put Barrie back on top with just 1:52 remaining when his rebound attempt was stopped, but he swatted the puck out of the air over Petes goalie Zach Bowen.

Jonathan Melee would tie the contest, once again, with 28 seconds remaining before Jelsma and Wigle would team up again for the overtime winner.

“I think as coaches you’re never satisfied, especially when you’re up by two goals going into the third,” Barski said of blowing the lead. “We expect our group to be able to shut those games down as we kind of have previous efforts.

“But a couple of individual miscues led to them tying the game up, but since we’ve been around this group ever since the trade deadline there’s really no quit in this group. The players on this team deserve a ton of credit.”

While he’s been a force over his career with the Colts, Jelsma has especially taken his game to another level since being named captain after previous leader Connor Punnett was dealt at the trade deadline.

“With that added responsibility, he’s really relished in that,” said Barski. “Even with the game-winning goal he made a great play on it, but the shift before that he got a full head of steam and went blue line to blue line and rang it off the crossbar.

“He does that three or four times every game.”

 Wigle has taken his game to another level offensively. Twelve out of his 18 goals this season have come since Barrie moved top-six scoring forwards Eduard Sale and Jacob Frasca at the trade deadline.

“At the start of the season, I don’t know if I wasn’t feeling it or maybe I wasn’t playing with the right players and not just clicking,” said the 19-year-old, who had five goals in 74 games coming into this season. “In the second half, maybe something just clicked in my mind. Maybe it was playing with Jelsma, but it’s been a lot easier.”

The versatile Wigle can play up and down the lineup in any role, be it a shutdown forward or having the chance to play on the top line last year with Evan Vierling and Ethan Cardwell.

“In that role, he was more of a supporting cast. Now, this year, obviously he’s a year older, got a little bit more confidence,” said Barski. “We moved some older guys out at the deadline and it opened up things for other players.

“With those opportunities, come guys who are really going to step up and that’s exactly what he’s done.”

The Colts continue their busy stretch over the final three weeks of the regular season on Thursday night when they host the Mississauga Steelheads.

“We have 11 games here in 18 days,” said Barski. “That’s a real hard schedule, so we already talked about the recovery aspect, the nutrition part of things and obviously the rest and sleep are important. Every one of these last 11 games, we really want to chip away.

“We obviously want to make the playoffs and we want to go into the playoffs with a good feeling around the team.”

Game time Thursday at Sadlon Arena is 7 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: The Colts can clinch the final playoff berth with either 10 points in their remaining 11 games or five Peterborough losses in regulation time. Barrie needs just five points or three Niagara losses in regulation time to eliminate the IceDogs. . . Sam Hillebrandt made 40 saves to pick up his 13th win of the season. . . Grayson Tiller had two assists in a strong return to the lineup. Tiller (foot) had been out since Feb. 10th. “Tiller is one of those guys we rely on back there,” said Barski. “That leadership, that good decision making and he’s hard to play against. He’s just a very reliable defenceman for this level and I thought he impacted the game very well. It’s a testament to him and our athletic staff that he came back and didn’t miss a beat.”

banner image: Terry Wilson, OHL Images

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