Facing the Ottawa 67’s is tough enough at the best of times.
Tackling a well rested Ottawa team when your own tank is near empty, well that’s just not good.
The Colts discovered that Saturday night as the fatigued club, wrapping a three-games-in-three-nights weekend, were no match for the OHL’s top team and suffered a 6-0 drubbing at Sadlon Arena.
While the Colts were rolling out Friday afternoon for a game in Kitchener that night, the 67’s were already in Barrie and waiting.
“It was a tough one tonight,” Colts veteran defenceman Matthew Hill admitted. “That was their first game of the weekend and that was our third, but still we got to play better than that.”
A team that pushes the pace every shift, the Colts simply had no energy to keep up with a dominant Ottawa team that has run away with the Eastern Conference.
“Ottawa is a team that doesn’t stop,” Colts head coach Todd Miller said. “They roll four lines and they’re coming at you every 30 seconds. They’re changing lines, they’re coming quick. They don’t stop moving their feet. For us tonight, a three-in-three night, we saw it early on and they just kept coming in waves.
“I thought we didn’t have much jump at all tonight. I think the guys were tired. We got contributions from the fourth line. They were the ones that had some jump in their game and I thought they created more out there than anybody.
The Colts (28-28-4-2) trailed just 1-0 after the opening period, but were never really in this one. They managed just three shots in the first, and finished with 13 overall as Ottawa goaltender Cedric Andree bagged his fourth shutout of the season in relatively easy fashion.
Miller expected it to be a tough night, which is why he wanted his tired hockey club to focus on their own end to stay in the game.
“It doesn’t matter how tired you are, you can defend in your own end,” he said. “Before the game we talked about how we’re going to have to defend real hard in our own end. I don’t expect us to have a real strong forecheck, we’re pretty tired from last night, but no excuses you got to defend.”
Graeme Clarke and Joseph Garreffa, with a goal and two assists, led the way offensively for Ottawa (48-11-0-1). Austen Keating, Cameron Tolnai and OHL scoring leader Marco Rossi each had a goal and assist, while Jack Quinn potted his 49th of the season.
“They’re a good, fast team,” Hill said of the 67’s, who will be back in Barrie on March 21st to wrap up Barrie’s regular season schedule. “They get on us real quick and it’s hard sometimes to make plays.”
“Definitely a good learning curve and playing good teams is how you get better,” Hill added.
Despite little offensive push, the Colts were still in the game heading into the second before goals by Quinn and Clarke seemed to take what little energy the home team had out of them.
Ottawa broke it open with three goals early in third as Barrie goaltender Arturs Silovs received little help in front of him.
“We did start out OK, but you could see them coming and getting momentum,” Miller said. “They’re a rested team and they kept coming at us. A team like them, that has four lines, it’s tough on you. Again my problem is just the defending part of it, especially late in the game. Have some pride and defend hard for your goalies.
“Our goalies were left out to dry quite a bit, so this week’s going to be a good, hard work week on defending when you’re tired.”
Fortunately for the Colts, Mississauga fell 5-1 to Peterborough and Hamilton lost 8-6 at home to Saginaw. With six games over two weeks remaining in the regular season, Barrie sits fifth in the conference with a three-point lead on Mississauga and six points up on Hamilton.
The Colts will hit the road Wednesday to face the Owen Sound Attack before kicking off a weekend home-and-home set Saturday night at home with the North Bay Battalion.
“It’s going to be interesting what happens down the stretch here, but one thing for us is we got to get ourselves here defending better before the playoffs,” Miller said. “There’s been too many lopsided games lately and I have not been happy with the way we defended. Some of the scores, especially in our own building, take some pride in defending the right way.
“This weekend will be a good test for us and we’ll get right down to old school, teaching these guys how to defend better.”
Game time Wednesday night at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre is 7 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Ottawa outshot Barrie, 37-13. . . The four shots in the opening period was the lowest shot total for Barrie in a first frame this season. . . Graeme got the better of younger Brandt in the battle of the Clarke siblings. This was just the second time the brothers have faced one another in the OHL.
Banner picture of Barrie Colt Matthew Hill. Courtesy TERRY WILSON/OHL IMAGES