Published March 10, 2024

Red hot Jelsma powers Colts past North Bay

Captain records hat trick to run scoring streak to 14 games
Colts' Jelsma

Beau Jelsma doesn’t ever remember being on a run like the one he’s on right now.

It’s definitely coming at a good time for the Barrie Colts.

The captain was at it again Saturday night, recording a hat trick to run his torrid scoring streak to 14 games and lead Barrie to a 4-2 win over the North Bay Battalion in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,230 at Sadlon Arena.

The win moved Barrie (26-29-4-0) one step closer to clinching a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. While the Peterborough Petes defeated the Niagara IceDogs 7-5 last night to keep pace, the Colts remain 10 points up in eighth spot with two games in hand and are just five points away from booking their playoff ticket thanks in large part to the play of Jelsma.

“I just try to play hard every night and do the right things, and just do what I can for the team,” said the 19-year-old, who now has 16 goals and 11 assists for 27 points over his impressive run. “It seems to be going my way right now. I know it’s not going to be like that every night, but I just got to work hard and hopefully good things will happen.”

Jelsma scored late in the first and second periods on his signature rushes from centre ice and then fittingly sealed the win into an empty net with 1:13 remaining to give him a career high 34 goals and 75 points.

“Yeah, it was fitting,” said Colts general manager and head coach Marty Williamson of Jelsma sealing a win the veteran powered his teammates too. “He’s really relished the role we’ve kind of put him into. He’s a whole different player.

“His confidence is through the roof and he’s seeing the game really well, and that speed is just a big weapon.”

That speed gives opposing defencemen and goaltenders fits. In almost carbon copies of one another, but from different sides of the ice, Jelsma made the turn at centre and then blazed his way up along the boards past North Bay defenders before cutting across the front of the net and beating goalie Mike McIvor.

“I work a lot with my mom,” Jelsma said of his skating. “I’ve been doing edges and skating since I was really young and that’s kind of one of my signature plays that I really work on quite a bit.

“I’ve seen some opportunities and I just said, ‘Yeah, screw it. I’m just going to go for it’ and it worked out great.”

The speedy rushes are like the ones once made by former Colt and current Chicago Blackhawks forward Andreas Athanasiou. While Athanasiou would stickhandle his way around opponents, like Jelsma when he made the turn at centre and began to accelerate, you knew you had to watch.

“You knew he was coming to the net and you knew something good was happening,” said Williamson. “It’s tough on a goalie, especially with Jelsma. He’s coming across so fast and you know that if there’s any hole there, he’s putting the puck in.”

For the third straight game, the Colts blew a two-goal lead in the third period. The Battalion (33-20-6-2) appeared like it was going to spoil a really good effort by Barrie when Ty Nelson blasted a point shot on the power play past Sam Hillebrandt just 2:31 into the third and then Owen Van Steensel tied it less than five minutes later.

Unlike Thursday night against Mississauga when Barrie would give up three straight goals and lose 4-3 in overtime, the young club didn’t panic and immediately bounced back with a strong shift.

Riley Patterson would then knock a loose puck in on the goal line with 4:47 remaining for the game winner and the Colts would snap North Bay’s three-game win streak.

“That’s what’s great about our team right now is there’s no quit in us,” said Jelsma. “We work hard every night and we got rewarded for it tonight. That last game against Mississauga, that shouldn’t have happened. We let our guard down a little bit and paid for it.

“Tonight, we stuck to it when things got tough and they worked out.”

A little miscommunication allowed Nelson to wire home his power-play goal and then the puck bounced over Patterson’s stick on Van Steensel’s tying goal, but Williamson liked how his club kept its cool.

“I’m happy that the guys didn’t get too down. We had a really good shift after that,” said the Colts’ bench boss. “The hard work in the first and second got us a two-goal lead and, yeah, they got a couple back, but it was still a tie game and we needed to have a good shift and we did.”

Barrie played one of its best games of the season and it came against a North Bay club that is locked in a battle for the top spot in both the Central Division and the conference.

“I thought it was a really good team game,” said Williamson. “It was kind of heavy line matching game and I thought every line gave me the match I needed and our defence played very well too, and obviously Hillebrandt.”

The Colts ramped up their play and they’ll have to keep that going with tough challenges ahead of them in Oshawa on Sunday night and then a home-and-home set with Ottawa next Tuesday afternoon and Thursday night in Barrie.

“We want to get ready for playoff hockey and that’s the way to do it,” said Williamson. “You think of the Florida Panthers last year how they just got into the playoffs, but they were playing playoff hockey for a month and then it continued on for them.

“We’re thinking the same thing. We’ve got to play hard and we want to stay ahead of Peterborough. They won tonight, so it’s a big two points and we erase their win and see if we can get that x (clinched playoff spot) beside our name.”

Game time at the Tribute Communities Centre tonight in Oshawa is 6:05 p.m.

ICE CHIPS: Hillebrandt stopped 36 of 38 shots, while McIvor made 31 saves. . . Thomas Stewart was a force on the Barrie blueline again, recording three assists and finishing a plus 3. “He’s a really good role model for our young guys and that’s what was really important when we acquired him,” said Williamson. “I know he was disappointed (when he was traded), but he was also excited because he didn’t see power play (time) with that the team and he was going to get a different role with us. I give the kid a ton of credit. He was on a contender and you get moved to a team, but he loves this team.” . . . Michael Derbidge injured his shoulder last game and didn’t dress. “I doubt we’ll see him this weekend,” said Williamson. Jaiden Newton replaced Derbidge on a line with Zach Wigle and Jelsma and the rookie more than held his own. “Jelsma thinks he’s a small Jelsma down the road for us, so he was happy to have him on his line and it worked out well,” said the Barrie coach. . . The Colts held a special pre-game ceremony celebrating all the player billets.

Banner image via James Spizzirri / Barrie Colts

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