Another night and the same old issues proved costly for the Barrie Colts.
The struggling power play went scoreless once again and gave up yet another key shorthanded goal as the Colts dropped a 4-1 decision to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Saturday night, at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
Down 2-1 early in the second period and hanging tough with one of the OHL’s top teams, the Colts power play once again short circuited as Alex Kostov scored shorthanded and the West Division leading Greyhounds (17-8-2-0) never looked back.
It was the sixth shorthanded goal Barrie (11-13) has given up in the last six games. They have now given up a league worst nine goals with the man advantage.
“That hurt a lot in the second period. Shorthanded goals seem to be really biting us,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson. “It’s a 2-1 hockey game and can make a whole different third period if that doesn’t go in. I thought we had a really good second period and got a little more workmanlike in moving our feet, but we give up the shortie and it turns into 3-1.
“We’re not scoring a lot of goals right now, so we just couldn’t find one. We hit a couple of crossbars, but we just couldn’t get one to go in.”
The Barrie power play has gone bone dry in that department. It has now gone scoreless in 23 chances over the last five games and has dropped to 16th overall out of 20 teams with a 14.3 per cent efficiency rate.
The Colts appear to be a team lacking in confidence on the power play right now.
“It turns into two things,” said Williamson, whose club went 0-for-5 with the man advantage. “There’s disbelief and then there’s people trying to do too much in not shooting the puck enough and not trusting everybody on the ice. They kind of go hand-in-hand a little bit when you go through tough times and make O-Fors, and not scoring goals and giving up goals.
“We’re just not very fluid out there. You got the extra man. There’s a lot of simple plays out there and we’re just not making them.”
The Colts were playing their third game in three nights after a 9-6 loss in Sudbury that featured five shorthanded goals between the two teams.
“It’s been a struggle for us the past few games giving up shorthanded goals,” said Chris Grisolia, who sent in Roenick Jodoin alone on the breakaway for Barrie’s only goal. “It’s tough playing a three-in-three and you can’t make those mental mistakes, especially on the power play and give up those shorthanded goals.
“I thought we didn’t play too bad overall. We battled hard. We looked a little tired out there, but it was a decent game overall.”
Jodoin opened the scoring this one when he walked in and roofed a backhand over the shoulder of Hounds goaltender Langdon Miller just 6:37 into the game.
Connor Clattenburg would beat Barrie goalie Sam Hillebrandt just a little more than a minute later to tie it, before Arttu Karki, on the power play, scored the winner at 15:49 in a dominant opening period where the Hounds outshot the Colts, 19-10.
“We were pretty even with them all night despite the specialty teams,” said Grisolia. “That’s been a problem for us throughout the season. I thought we played pretty well five-on-five, and the shots (38-35 for the Soo) were pretty even. I wouldn’t want to take it too much to the negative having played three games-in-three-nights, especially jogging all the way to the Soo.
“It’s tough on the body, but it’s something we can learn from.”
The Colts picked things up after Kostov’s early goal in the second, outshooting the home team 17-12. Their power-play did create some good scoring opportunities on two chances later in the frame.
“We had some good looks and you’re kind of thinking one of those got to go in, they got to find something to go to the back of the net,” said Williamson. “But it’s just, unfortunately, the kind of way it is right now where it’s not going in. Another 0-for-5 night with a shorthanded goal and that hurts.”
Bryce McConnell-Barker scored at 14:11 of the third to give the Soo some extra breathing room.
The Colts face another busy week ahead when they continue on the road to Sarnia on Wednesday and Windsor on Thursday, before returning home Saturday to host Mississauga.
“We need the older guys to step up and lead the way, and we’re going to do that right now,” said Grisolia as the Colts will look to snap their two-game skid. “We just have to keep learning every day and teach the younger guys. Just keep improving every day.”
The power play has especially missed key veterans Jacob Frasca and Beau Akey, but unfortunately for the Colts it will still be quite some time before either of them return to the lineup.
Akey is set to have surgery on his shoulder and is gone for the season, while Frasca (hip) will likely be out until after Christmas.
“I don’t think we’ll see (Frasca) until after the Christmas break,” said Williamson. “He gets back his MRI results next week. There’s an outside chance of the last weekend (before holiday break), but we got to be cautious.”
Forward Bode Stewart (acromioclavicular strain) could also be out until after the holidays.
“He’s really not going to be back until that last weekend (before Christmas) and again we got to find out if he’s 100 per cent,” said Williamson. “I don’t want them at 85 per cent for the sake of them. . . We’ll make that decision then.”
Game time Wednesday against Sarnia at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena is 7:05 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Barrie is now 3-8 on the road. . . Take away six-goal efforts against Mississauga and Sudbury and the Colts have scored just 17 times in 9 games away from home. . . Rosters for the world junior hockey championships are set to be announced and the Colts are likely to have Eduard Sale (Czech) as the lone representative in the tournament.
Banner image: Terry Wilson/OHL Images – Christopher Grisolia