Published April 19, 2023

'Savy' play sets up Frasca OT winner as Colts take series lead on Troops

Colts played without their top scorer Evan Vierling

Just seconds after his overtime goal gave the Barrie Colts a 2-1 win Tuesday night at Sadlon Arena and put them on top in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the North Bay Battalion, the smile across Jacob Frasca's said it all.

"It was a great feeling," the veteran forward said of watching the puck hit the back of the net just 3:03 into the extra frame. "We had a three-on-three and I spotted (Tyler) Savard wide and then I got an unreal pass from him back door.

"(Declan) McDonnell did a good job driving the net, so we were all in our right spots and that's what happens when you play the right way."

Frasca hit the North Bay blueline and fired a cross-ice pass to a streaking Savard who waited patiently as walked around sliding Battalion defender Avery Winslow and then fired it back on the tape back to Frasca all alone in front and he buried it before goaltender Dom DiVincentiis could get across.

" All I had to do was the easy job and he had to do the hard work there," Frasca said of Savard's setup. "It was a great feeling and I was really relieved after that."

The Colts were facing a good deal of adversity coming into Tuesday's pivotal Game 3 of the best-of-seven series after losing top centre and top scorer Evan Vierling on a hit in Sunday's 5-2 loss in North Bay.

That adversity would only get bigger when sparkplug and second-line centre Beau Jelsma left the contest after taking a hit with the game even at 1-1.

The Colts needed someone to step up and deliver and that's exactly what Savard and Frasca did.

"It was a real good play, the patience," Colts head coach Marty Williamson said Savard showed on the overtime winner. (Christopoulos) went down to block and he had the patience to go around it and make a big play.

"That's what you need in overtime, you need people to make plays and we made one."

The Colts can grab a commanding 3-1 lead when the best-of-seven series continues in Barrie on Thursday night.

"Either it turns into a two-out-of-three or we get a little bit of a grasp of this thing," said Williamson. "We're playing our building, so it's an exciting game."

Despite the adversity, the Colts controlled most of the play in the physical and spirited hard-fought contest.

Especially after Seattle Kraken prospect Ty Nelson, whose power-play marker early in the second period gave North Bay a 1-0 lead, was handed a five-minute match cross-checking and tossed from the game for nailing Savard across the face.

The Battalion would kill the five-minute Barrie power play, but the home team would draw even shortly after when Tai York fished out a loose puck between the pads of DiVincentiis and shoveled it home.

"We outshot them 35-18 and we were all over them and knew the next one was going to come and it was going to be ours," said Frasca. "We were on our toes and we weren't turning it over or giving them their chances.

"We just played a good, disciplined game and a smart hockey game and that's how we got rewarded. That's playoff hockey."

The Colts pushed hard, especially late in the third when they came close to getting the winner, but DiVincentiis was outstanding all night and kept the Troops in this one.

"I thought we played hard," said Williamson. "We played gritty. Basically, our first and second centre are out of the game and our guys just kept battling and we found a way to hang around."

North Bay had just 10 shots combined through the last two periods and overtime and had few offensive opportunities.

"I thought defensively we were sound," said Williamson. "That's what I was most proud of the guys. We didn't cheat on things, we played the game solid.

"We just got to keep doing it. There's no different way for us to play. We got to keep doing it."

Losing Vierling, who 35 goals and 95 points during the regular season and a goal and 13 points in seven playoff games, is a blow, but the Colts know they have no time to think about anything else but the next contest.

"Obviously our top player's out and the coaching staff has to adjust and maybe you got to tweak how you play a little bit," he said. "Maybe play more defensive. Even Jelsma went out, but to battle that adversity for our group is huge. It means that we are capable of a lot and we're just getting started."

Every game in the series has been a battle and with only a day in between before Game 4, Frasca says the Colts have to be ready.

"We'll rest up (Wednesday), do video or light practice, or whatever is needed, and come back Thursday and it's game on once again.

"We love playing at home. We're 4-0 at home so far, we're going to use this to our advantage."

Banner image: Terry Wilson/OHL Images

Puck drop Thursday is 7:30 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Vierling, says Williamson, remains day-to-day. "We'll get him on the ice (Wednesday) or hopefully and maybe get some good views, but it's day-to-day. We don't know." . . . Anson Thornton stopped 17 of 18 shots to improve pick up his sixth win in eight playoff games. . . With Vierling out, Chris Grisolia slotted back into the lineup and had a strong game. . . Captain Brandt Clarke had an assists and now has points (6-14-20) in all eight playoff games he's played. . . NHL Central Scouting released their Final Rankings on Wednesday and Barrie blueliner Beau Akey sits 33rd overall among North American Skaters. Jelsma is ranked 190th. 

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