Published April 5, 2024

Generals rally late to put Colts on brink of elimination

The Barrie Colts were a mere 17 seconds away from a tie series, but another heartbreaking finish has them heading to Oshawa on Friday night needing a win to stave off playoff elimination.

Connor Lockhart, with the Generals on the power play and the goalie pulled, tied the game in the dying seconds and then Beckett Sennecke buried a breakaway for the winner 17:11 into overtime for a stunning 4-3 comeback over the Colts, Thursday night, at Sadlon Arena.

Oshawa now leads the OHL best-of-seven first round series 3-1 and can wrap it up tonight at home. Game time at the Tribute Communities Centre is 7:35 p.m.

“We got a young group in here, but we don’t quit,” said veteran defenceman Grayson Tiller of the Colts facing elimination. “We have no pressure, but we don’t quit. We haven’t given up all year.”

In a series where nearly all the breaks have gone their way, the Generals got another big one late in a game.

In Oshawa’s 5-4 Game 2 win last Sunday, the Colts tied the contest with eight seconds remaining only to have it ruled no goal after a lengthy review.

Last night, after Luca D’Amato scored at 8:31 of the third period to get the Generals within one to 3-2, the break came when Colts’ rookie defenceman Jack Brauti was handed a holding penalty with just 1:42 remaining to give Oshawa a two-man advantage with the the power play and goaltender Jacob Oster pulled for the extra attacker.

“It’s a tough game to lose,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson after the game. “A tough call with two minutes left in the game. It is (arguably) soft and then we can’t kill the penalty, and that’s the way it works.”

Oshawa’s top-ranked power play in the playoffs would take advantage when Barrie goaltender Sam Hillebrand stopped a point shot by Luca Morelli and then Sennecke on the rebound before Lockhart swatted in the loose puck in front to give Oshawa life.

“We just can’t give that up,” said Tiller of the late power play. “I don’t think we were disciplined enough tonight, myself included. You just can’t keep taking penalties late, we have to be better at closing out games.

“We can’t be giving up 3-1 leads in the third period.”

 The loss wiped out arguably Barrie’s best opening period of the season. After Williamson called Tuesday night’s 5-1 loss a “poor” game, the Colts came out flying, led in large part by Beau Jelsma.

The Barrie captain helped get things going at 6:43 when he slid a pass across to Kyle Morey and the former Kitchener Ranger made a nice inside move on Ben Danford and before ripping it over the right pad of Oster at 6:43.

Less than seven minute later Jelsma made it 2-0 when Brauti send him the puck across the top of the slot and the veteran raced into the left faceoff circle and ripped it past the left pad of Oster.

Zachary Sandhu would cut the lead to one early in the second before a late power-play marker in the same frame by Jelsma, who finished with two goals and an assist, made it 3-1 heading to the third period.

“It was,” Williamson said when asked if the first period effort was their best all season. “We got off our game a little bit. Get a little emotional in the second and we were still able to get out with a two-goal lead. We just made some bad mistakes. We throw a puck up the middle of the ice and that cost us one goal and a bad line change cost us a goal in overtime."

“That’s the way it goes. They’re a good hockey team and they make you pay when you make mistakes.”

Another would lead to the overtime winner.

With the Colts caught on a line change, Dylan Roobroeck would send Sennecke in all alone and the dynamic rookie faked to his forehand before pulling it to his backhand and lifting it over the pads of Hillebrand to give the Generals a commanding series lead.

“We had a couple of looks,” said Williamson of overtime. “We were a pretty tired hockey team, but we had a couple of looks and then a bad line change that cost us.”

Tiller believes he and his teammates deserved a better result.

“I thought we played really well all night,” he said. “I felt like we created chances. Our system, the structure our coaches put in place, is really working right now. t’s just we need to close out games. That was our issue tonight.”

Whatever breaks or calls that have gone against them, Tiller knows all that has to be in the past and the focus on finding a way to bring it back to Barrie for Game 6 on Sunday night.

“We got to put aside all the calls, all the refs,” he said. “We have to play a hard game. We can’t let those little things bother us. We got to play a hard game. (Friday) is obviously a big one. It’s win or go home, and we don’t want to go home.

“We know we can beat this team, and that’s what we want to do.”

Williamson knows his team will leave it all out there on Friday.

“We’ll go in there and play a good hockey game and hopefully it gives us the same opportunity and try to get this thing back to Sunday,” said the Barrie bench boss.


ICE CHIPS: Former Colt and now Oshawa blueliner Connor Punnett appeared to be handed a five-minute major in the second period, but the was call was reversed after a review of the play. . The Generals outshot Barrie 56-37, including 35-13 over the third and overtime. . . Game 6, if necessary, returns to Sadlon Arena on Sunday night at 6 p.m. . . Morey’s marker was his first in the playoffs. . . Attendance last night was 3,763.

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