Published March 16, 2023

Poor defensive play sinks Colts in loss to Steelheads

Clarke's four-point night runs scoring streak to 13 games
Poor defensive play sinks Colts in loss to Steelheads

With the OHL playoffs just around the corner, Barrie Colts head coach Marty Williamson wants his team's focus on shoring up its own game.

Wednesday night's 6-5 shootout loss to the Mississauga Steelheads at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre shows they still have work to do in the defensive department.

"Offensively we played very well. We did the things we wanted to do, we created the shot count we wanted, but defensively we made too many mistakes," said a disappointed Williamson after his team had its four-game win streak snapped and dropped only its second loss in the last 10 games.

"You can't allow five goals against and think you can win games in this league, especially in the playoffs."

Roenick Jodoin believes he and his teammates are much better when it comes to keeping the puck out of their own net and feels it's important they watch the video of the game and then just put it behind them.

"We pride ourselves on our defence, so obviously we don't like the outcome of five goals," said Jodoin, whose eighth goal of the season tied the contest at 2-2 midway through the second period. "We just got to move forward."

The point moved Barrie (38-16-6-3) to within four points of the North Bay Battalion atop the Central Division standings, though with only five games remaining time is running out on locking down home ice advantage in the playoffs through the opening two rounds.

For Williamson, there are more important things right now than worrying about tracking down North Bay.

"That's in the back of our heads that we'd love to catch them, but we're more concerned about our game," he said. "If we get to Game 7, and we're losing Game 7 in North Bay, then we'll be kicking our ass that we didn't get home ice, but other than that it's not a big concern."

There were good parts to the Colts game on this night. Twice they fought back on goals by captain Brandt Clarke to get the game into overtime and then had several chances, including a couple of golden chances by Clarke, to win it in the extra frame.

Parker Von Richter would spoil the comeback when he beat Barrie goalie Ben West on the third shootout attempt to win it for Mississauga (30-27-6-0) and help them clinch a playoff spot.

"I think we're one of the best overtime teams in the league for sure," said Colts forward Roenick Jodoin, who had his eighth goal of the season in the loss. "We definitely have the most skill in the league, that's not a problem for us. We didn't get lucky today."

Ethan Cardwell and Beau Akey also scored for the Colts, but Clarke was the big star on this night adding two assists to give him four points on the night.

The Los Angeles Kings prospect stretched his scoring streak to 13 games and now has eight goals and 18 assists for 26 points over his run.

"Offensively he did good things even though he'd like to have one of the goals back defensively," said Jodoin of his talented teammate. "Offensively I thought he was dominant out there."

Despite playing just 28 games, Clarke is eighth overall in scoring among defencemen with 18 goals and 34 assists for 52 points.

 He's eight points behind Guelph's Michael Buchinger for fourth spot in scoring.

"He's the best defenceman in the league by far," said Jodoin. "We're lucky to have him. He's unbelievable."

Playing in his 250 OHL game, Mississauga overager and Innisfil native James Hardie capped off the milestone night with a goal and assist and now has 79 points (37-42) to surpass his career high of 77 points last season.

Lucas Karmiris, Zander Veccia, Angus MacDonnell and Luke Misa also scored for the Steelheads who would be a first-round opponent of the Colts in the opening round of the playoffs if the season had ended tonight.

"It could be a match-up," said Williamson, whose club took four of six games against their Central rivals this season. "We'll have to tighten up on things and do some things a little different, but we got to get through whether it's them, whether it's Sudbury or whether it's Hamilton.

"Anybody can beat anybody in this league, and it's tough giving up five or six goals a game."

The Barrie Colts will round out their second last weekend of the season when they face the Owen Sound Attack in a rare Friday night home game at Sadlon Arena and then host the Niagara IceDogs on Saturday night.

Williamson's club hopes Wednesday's night not-so-great defensive performance was just a blip on the schedule.

"We did a lot of good things. You got to give their goalie some credit, because we easily could have had eight or nine goals," said Williamson on the effort in net by Mississauga's Ryerson Leenders. "I thought offensively we did a lot of good things, just, unfortunately, we didn't play defence quite as well as a team.

"They ended up with 30 shots and found ways to score goals and that's just not good enough by us. There were a lot of positives to our game, and we'll just move on to Owen Sound and try to play a solid game against them."

Game time Friday is 7:30 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Barrie outshot Mississauga 44-30. . . Cardwell notched his 39th goal of the season to run his scoring streak to nine games (11-7-18), while linemate Evan Vierling drew an assist to increase his scoring streak to 12 games (12-16-28). . . Clarke's current scoring pace would have him leading the OHL in scoring over a full year. 

banner image: Terry Wilson/OHL Images

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