Tyson Foerster has already earned his invite to the upcoming 2020 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Hamilton, but the Barrie Colts winger is leaving no doubt he belongs among the top players available for this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
Foerster was at it again Saturday night, scoring once and adding three assists to lead the Colts to a convincing 6-1 win over the North Bay Battalion at Sadlon Arena.
The second-year winger leads Barrie in scoring this season with 21 goals and 26 assists for 47 points. After a season-long pointless streak of two games – yes, just two games – Foerster is back on his usual consistent productive pace with two goals and seven points over his last four games.
“It always helps having (Ryan Suzuki) back on my line too,” the 17-year-old Alliston native said crediting his regular centre who recently returned after missing than six weeks of action with an eye injury. “I’m pretty confident with the puck right now. Things are going in for me, they’re going right so I just got to keep going.”
With the Top Prospects Game just around the corner on January 16th, Foerster can also look to his linemate for advice on the high pressure contest which features the best NHL prospects across the three major junior hockey leagues in the country.
One of the top NHL prospects going into last season, Suzuki knows the intense pressure one faces playing in front of an arena packed with scouts from every team keeping a close eye on your performance against the top players in the draft class.
Suzuki, who was a first-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2018 NHL draft, believes his younger linemate will do just fine.
“He’s worked for it, so you know he deserves every bit of it,” Suzuki said of Foerster. “He’s underrated, I think. A lot of people overlook him. I’ve been playing with him for two years now and he’s definitely a great player. You shouldn’t overlook him. He’s got an unbelievable shot, hands and he thinks the game really well.”
For his part, Foerster knows he just has to play his game and do the things that helped him earn an invite.
“Just doing the little things right, like chipping pucks out and blocking shots,” Barrie’s third-round pick (55th overall) in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection said. “Just shooting a lot, too. I think I got a good shot, so if I can shoot hopefully they can go in like they are going in now.”
Luke Bignell, with a pair, Jason Willms, Jack York and Oliver Smith, with his first OHL marker, also scored for the Colts (16-16-2-1), who are back within four points of Sudbury atop the Central Division with three games in hand.
Barrie native Mitchell Russell, with his 14th, had the lone goal for the Battalion (9-27-1-0).
Barrie grabbed control of this one with a pair of goals in the first and continued its much improved play after the Christmas break. The Colts headed into the holiday breather on an eight-game winless streak, but since returning they’ve won three of their last five games and have earned seven out of possible 10 points.
“We needed that break,” said Foerster, who will suit up for Team White in the prospects game alongside the No. 1 rated top prospect and Canadian national junior team member Alexis Lafrenier. “We had so many guys injured and sick and stuff. We needed that break and we’re buzzing now.”
Suzuki is still wearing a full shield after the eye injury he suffered in a Nov. 1st contest in Flint. After recording a mere assist in his first three games since returning just before the Christmas break, the talented playmaking centre is getting stronger with a goal and three helpers in his last four games.
“It’s still bugging me a bit,” admitted Suzuki. “It’s not fully healed yet. Mentally it’s a little tough right now. Physically I can do everything I did before, right now I just got get used to, I guess, a new eye. It’s been tough mentally, but everyone’s been great. The doctors, my parents, my teammates, everyone’s been just so helpful towards me and they really pushed me to get back.”
And get back to the strong chemistry he developed earlier in the season with Foerster.
“Obviously I like having a big winger that can shoot the puck,” said Suzuki, who loves to setup his linemate for those big one-time blasts from the faceoff dot. “It’s a little different from (Lucas) Chiodo, a little guy. Foerster thinks the game really well.”
The Colts return to action Thursday night, just ahead of the Jan. 10 OHL Trade Deadline, when they host the Wolves. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Czech winger Matej Pekar (away at worlds) is expected to be back in the lineup on Thursday. . . Barrie goaltender Jet Greaves turned aside 32 shots to record his seventh win of the season. . . Current Winnipeg Jets centre and former Colt Bryan Little will have his No. 18 retired in a special ceremony before the Jan. 25th home game against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Little is the franchise’s all-time leading scorer with 153 goals and 189 assists for 342 points in 247 OHL games.
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