With four regulars out of the lineup, the Barrie Colts can ill afford subpar performances these days.
Unfortunately for the Colts they had a few of them Friday night and head coach Warren Rychel believes it’s a big reason why they dropped a 6-3 decision to the Kingston Frontenacs at the Leon’s Centre.
“We played pretty good, we outplayed them,” Rychel said. “We won the special teams, it was just we had a lot of individuals who didn’t play good enough today. We had a good plan. Our lines were going pretty good and we dominated them on the shot clock.
“A few guys weren’t very good and it cost us the game. Four or five of my older guys weren’t that good.”
The loss was the fourth straight for the struggling Colts, who found themselves without another key forward in the lineup last night with Buffalo Sabres prospect Matej Pekar off to play for the host country at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic.
Carolina Hurricanes prospect Ryan Suzuki (eye injury) has been out for some six weeks now, along with Dallas Stars prospect Nicholas Porco and rookie Jacob Frasca, who are both recovering from mononucleosis.
“We have three NHL draft picks out and we can’t have any passengers,” Rychel added. “It wasn’t the young kids that let us down tonight, it was our veterans.”
Luke Bignell, Jason Willms and Tyson Foerster, with his team-leading 18th goal, scored for the Colts (13-12-1-1), who have just one win in the last eight games and have fallen into third place in the Central Division standings.
While Barrie is scuffling, Kingston is surging. Shane Wright, the first overall pick this season, had a goal and assist and Dawson Baker scored twice to lead the Frontenacs (9-16-2-2), who have won nine of their last 10 after collecting just one win in the first 19 games of the season.
Even 1-1 after the opening period, things came apart for Barrie early in the middle frame thanks to some costly defensive breakdowns. Baker put the Fronts ahead for good at 4:22 when he was left alone in the slot and fired a pass from Jordan Frasca past Barrie goaltender Jet Greaves.
Kallway Mercer scored another just 25 seconds later, before Zayde Wisdom took a long feed from Nick Wong and buried it to put Kingston in control midway through the period.
Willms cut the lead in half at 11:27, but Dustin Hutton got that right back less than a minute later and the Frontenacs would hold on as the Colts pressed in the third, but couldn’t battle back.
“We had a great opportunity to score on the first shift of the second and some mistakes, one bad penalty and it’s in (our) net,” Rychel said. “We battled back. I’m proud of the guys, they battled hard. We just got to find a way to buy time and get this (skid) over with here and get some guys back.”
Rychel is hoping there’s some good news on the injury front coming early next week in regards to Suzuki and the possibility of him getting clearance to return.
“Hopefully,” said the Barrie bench boss. “He’s seeing the specialist in London on Monday, so hopefully he’s in a week tonight.
If the Colts want to snap their skid this weekend, they’ll have to do it against one of the OHL’s hottest teams when they travel to the nation’s capital to take on the Ottawa 67’s Saturday afternoon.
The 67’s sit second overall in the league standings and have won nine straight games.
“We all got to get better,” Rychel said. “We got to find a way to get together here and win a game, that’s all. Nothing (else) you can do. You can’t feel sorry for yourself with the schedule or injuries, you got to be ready to go.”
Rychel believes his team is more like the one that started the season.
“A hundred per cent I know it they’re better,” he added. “We just got to get better as a whole and it’s a great opportunity for some guys to play well and they’re not taking it. We just got to worry about playing 60 minutes (Saturday) and we’ll be fine.”
Game time Saturday at TD Place is 2 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: Willms added two helpers to finish the night with three points. . .Former Colt Christian Propp made 40 saves to earn the win in goal for Kingston. The Colts held the edge in shots, 43-33. . . Barrie went 2-for-6 on the power play, Kingston 1-for-3. . . It was a rough night for the line of Riley Piercey, Aidan Brown and Bignell, who finished a combined minus nine.