Tyler Savard saved something special for his old team Saturday night and the Barrie Colts forward couldn’t be more thrilled about it.
Facing the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the first time since a Jan. 3 trade, Savard notched the game-winner, his first goal as a Colt, to power his new team to a 3-1 victory at Sadlon Arena.
“It was a great feeling, especially against my old team,” said Savard, who showed his relief of scoring his first by skating by the Barrie bench and mimicking tossing the monkey off his back.
Savard’s 10th of the season, and first point in five games with Barrie, gave the Colts a 2-0 lead 5:54 into the second period.
“That one feels really good,” said the 19-year-old. “I had this one marked on the calendar as soon as I got traded, so to get the two points and the game winner was special for sure.”
Savard’s goal came off a beautiful setup by Brandt Clarke. The Los Angeles Kings prospect made a nice inside move to get by Greyhounds forward Mark Duarte at the point, cut to the middle of ice drawing two more Greyhounds before sliding a backhander back across to Savard for the easy tap-in.
“Every time Brandt touches the puck, I just like I got to get open and he’ll find me,” said Savard. “I’ve never played with a player like Brandt. I’ve played with a lot of good guys, but just his vision and the way he can see the ice and move the puck is next to no one and that’s why he started the year in the NHL.
“He’s already proven himself in this league.”
Marty Williamson was happy for the former Greyhound who he says will certainly like playing with Barrie’s captain.
“Yeah, he enjoys having Clarke on the ice putting it on a platter for him,” said the Colts general manager and head coach, before adding a chuckle. “Ty has been coming along really well. He’s buying into everything we’re trying to do here and he’s a great teammate.
“I just see him getting better and better.”
Callum Chisholm, who opened the scoring, and Artur Cholach, into an open net, also found the scoresheet for the Colts (21-10-4-2), who have just one regulation loss in their last 15 games.
Kalvyn Watson, on the power play to cut the Barrie lead to 2-1 late in the second period, had the lone goal for the Greyhounds (12-16-7-4), who have just two wins in their last 10 games.
Barrie had plenty of chances to take command of this one had they capitalized on four early power-play chances or two breakaways and other nice offensive setups.
“That’s the kind of game that we let slip away earlier in the year where if you’re not winning 6-1 they’re not going in,” said Williamson. “That could have been a 6-1 kind of game. We didn’t give up a lot defensively and that’s what I’m most proud of the guys.
“You got to find ways when the puck doesn’t go in. You got to be able to win a 3-2 or 2-1 hockey game.”
Barrie dominated the first, outshooting the Soo 15-5, but only held a 1-0 lead. Anson Thornton faced little pressure all game, as the Greyhounds only managed to get 15 shots on net.
Trailing 2-1 after two periods, the visitors could only muster a meager two shots in the third.
“We think we got great goaltending and we get the shot clock down that’s just going to help those guys and they’ll be even stronger for us,” added Williamson. “It’s play to your strengths and right now our strength is goaltending and defence and we’re just going to really work on trying to grow that offence, growing our power play too.
“I thought we sputtered the last two games (with the man advantage) and we got to get back on track. We made some changes with Clarke coming back and we just haven’t been clicking.”
The trade to Barrie was just fine with Savard, especially with the chance to join a team that is looking to make a long playoff run.
“As soon as I got the call that I was coming to Barrie, I was so excited,” said the six-foot-two, 201-pound power forward who was named the game’s first star. “I know that they have a really good core here and a great group of guys in the room.
“I personally believe we have the best defensive core in the league and I think that’s what you need to win playoff series in the OHL.”
The Colts will need to keep up this winning pace if they want to catch North Bay in the Central Division standings or have any hope of flagging down Ottawa atop the Eastern Conference standings.
The schedule won’t make it easy with Ottawa here Thursday and then Windsor and Shane Wright making their way to Barrie on Saturday.
First up though is a date this afternoon on the road against the Mississauga Steelheads. Their Central rivals have gotten a lot younger since the OHL trade deadline, but the last time these two met last Friday the Trout “jammed it” to Barrie, 6-1.
“They got good young talent there and their blue line is still strong and, at times, that goalie stands on his head there,” said Williamson. “The last time we didn’t get any traffic to the net and just weren’t willing to do the hard working things. Hopefully we learned our lesson and we’re a lot better tomorrow.”
Game time at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre is 2 p.m.
ICE CHIPS: The Colts kick off a busy next week with a rare Tuesday night contest in Owen Sound. . . Barrie outshot the Soo, 30-15. . . The Colts finished 0-for-5 on the power play, while the Hounds were 1-for-2. . . Attendance was 4,097 for Colts Pride Night. Teams across the CHL are celebrating inclusive hockey and inclusivity in sport. . . Colts forward Zach Wigle celebrated his 18th birthday on Thursday. . . Cholach has recorded two of his three goals this season and five of his nine assists in his last seven games.
Banner image via Terry Wilson/OHL Images