Entries in Barrie Colts (24)

Tuesday
Nov192013

Reunited and it Feels so Good!

by Taylor Pope (@TPope91)

Reunited and it feels so good. The Barrie Colts are red hot; winners of 5 straight and an early season 6 game losing streak is a thing of the past.

The Colts recent success is in part too many things; solid goaltending from 16 year old rookie Mackenzie Blackwood, scoring from all throughout the lineup, physical play but most importantly, their top line of Zach Hall, Mitchell Theoret and Andreas Athanasiou are back together and scoring at will.

The trio of veterans sit 1, 2 and 4 in team scoring with Hall sitting in 4th by 2 points behind Captain Aaron Ekblad despite missing 7 games while battling mononucleosis.

Hall has been the spark plug that has rejuvenated Theoret and Athanasiou who were in drastic slumps without him in the lineup. Hall has points in all 6 games since his return as does Athanasiou who couldn’t be happier to have the gifted playmaker back on his line.

“ We had a little bit of chemistry last year as Hall was on my line at the start of the year but getting all three of us going it took some time but you can see it’s starting to blend together nicely.” Said the 19 year old.

Hall admitted it took him about a week of practice to get back to full energy after his battle with mono but the overager feels he’s back to 100 percent.

 “Definitely when I have full energy I feel a lot better out there, I feel like I can move and support the puck with those two.”  Said Hall who has 9 points since his return to the lineup.

A teams offense starts with their top line...the big guns and when your best players aren’t scoring it puts more pressure on the rest of the team to produce. Pressure some players can’t handle.

“I wouldn’t say it’s too much pressure we have a good young core every night everyone’s going out and battling hard and doing what their supposed to do.” Said Hall.  

“No, I think we know that, all three of us. We just come in and do the best we can for the team and we know we have to produce. “ Athanasiou said of the veteran line producing.

Even when the team was struggling to score, the Colts knew it was only a matter of time before things started clicking once again and chances were going to be buried.

“I’m sure the goals will come, we can’t go the rest of the year with not scoring any or scoring one goal a game. We’ll have our chances to score two or three.”  Said Theoret after the Colts 6th straight loss on October 17th to Sault Ste. Marie.

Since that game Barrie is 8 and 2 and have outscored their opponents 43-27.

With the loss of Mark Scheifele, Anthony Camara and Steven Beyers who combined for an astonishing 208 points last season as the team’s first line; Hall, Theoret and Athanasiou had big shoes to fill this year as the pressure was now on them to score and it would be their teammates looking down the bench at them when the team needed a goal.

All three saw time on the first line last season alongside Mark Scheifele. Hall was given the biggest opportunity and took full advantage as the Belleville native led the team in points with 81.

Theoret who was acquired at last season’s trade deadline from the Niagara IceDogs filled the vacant wing during Anthony Camara’s plethora of suspensions during the OHL playoffs. Theoret responded by scoring 14 times in 22 games.

Athanasiou had a breakout year in his first season in Barrie racking up 67 points and the speedy Redwings prospect hopes to eclipse that mark this season.

One thing that makes the trio so dangerous is their versatility. All three can play any forward position and at times they rotate throughout the game. Theoret, the big power forward prefers being in the middle but can slide to the wing easily which he did at times last season to play alongside Scheifele in Barrie and Ryan Strome during his time in Niagara.

“We’re pretty versatile, anyone can play anywhere on our line and it helps for when a guy gets kicked out of the draw a new guy can step in so it definitely helps out a lot there.” Said Hall who mentioned he prefers the wing to utilize his speed better.

Regardless of where the three veterans are playing, their line seems to be a main stay on the Colts this season because when they’re clicking and scoring, the Colts are a tough team to beat. 

Monday
Sep232013

2013/14 Barrie Colts

by Taylor Pope (@TPope91)

The 2013-2014 OHL season is upon us and for the returning players on the Barrie Colts, the devastating Game 7 loss just a few months ago is still fresh on their minds.

But with a new season, brings new opportunities and when you ask any Colt player about that game in London, they are quick to say it is a forgotten memory and the goal this year is to be right back in the OHL final once again.

“You just have to learn from it, you can’t dwell on it,” Said Colts defenceman Jonathan Laser. “It’s a new season now, new start. Obviously we’re trying to get back there and we just have to use that memory as fire to get back there and win it.”

With 18 returning players, there is no question Barrie is once again a favourite to be atop the Eastern Conference at the end of the season.

Their biggest strength will be on the backend with six returning defenceman. Captain Ryan O’Connor and veteran Alex Lepkowski, who have both moved onto the pro ranks is a big loss but with newly named team captain and top ranked prospect Aaron Ekblad leading the way, this Colts defence is not an easy group to play against.

Jonathon Laser, Alex Yuill, Jake Dotchin and Ekblad are all now in their third seasons in the OHL while Michael Webster and CJ Garcia enter their second year.

“It’s nice to play with guys you’re familiar with and getting that experience coming back after going on that long playoff run last year and everyone had a good summer, it’s definitely good having a lot of guys returning back there this year.” Says Laser.

Dotchin came to camp 20 pounds lighter and his foot speed is much improved. Garcia has looked phenomenal, skating with confidence and looking like a veteran in this league despite only playing 29 games in his rookie year.

Barrie currently has nine defencemen still on their roster with Josh Carrick, Liam Maaskant and Jayme Forslund fighting for the two remaining spots on the backend.

One question mark entering the season is will the Colts be able to score like they did last year without Mark Scheifele, Anthony Camara and Steven Beyers. The three players amounted for 91 goals and 208 points and were an integral part of the Colts run to the OHL final.

If game one of the season was any indication of what to except this year, I think it’s safe to say that Barrie will have no trouble with offence. The Colts lit up Jake Paterson and a very tough Saginaw Spirit squad 7-4 in front of just under 3000 fans in the home opener at the Barrie Molson Centre on Thursday night.

“I think tonight (Thursday) was a big thing for us getting seven goals, really proves we have depth on this team and from last year’s playoffs the guys who really didn’t play that much can play now and they can put the puck in the net. I think everybody has a lot of skill otherwise they wouldn’t be here.” Said Colts winger Josh MacDonald.

Barrie enters the year with two of the best overagers in the OHL as leading scorer Zach Hall and Mitchell Theoret both return for their final OHL season after being sent back to Barrie after attending NHL training camps.

Andreas Athanasiou who is one of the most explosive players in the OHL is determined as ever after having a breakout year in his first season in Barrie last year. The 19 year old is looking to make a case for Team Canada and the World Junior squad with his game breaking ability and blazing speed.

Returning forwards Josh MacDonald, Erik Bradford, Brendan Lemieux and Tyson Fawcett will be given bigger roles this season and expectations are high for them to produce.

MacDonald, who enters his third year was in Dale Hawerchuk’s doghouse for the majority of last season will be given every opportunity to prove he is a top six forward in this league. MacDonald got off to a hot start to the year as the London native found the back of the net twice against the Spirit.

“It’s definitely a big thing for me I think getting a couple tonight was big and keeping it going is the big thing,” Said Macdonald after his two goal performance. “Playing with certain guys and getting some chemistry going with the guys and getting to know what they do and get to the quiet spots on the ice and put the puck in the back of the net I think is going to be huge for us this year.”

Also returning is Dylan Corson and Justin Scott. Devin Rymarchuk just completed wrist surgery and there is no timeline for the wingers return. Overager Cody Brown looks to be the odd man out with Hall, Theoret and Fawcett filling the three overager positions but the 20 year old will remain with the team for the time being.

New faces up front include; first round pick Matthew Kreis who potted his first career OHL goal in the season opener. The 16 year has shown no fear in his short time in Barrie thus far and is a threat to score everytime he touches the puck.

Andrew Mangiapane was brought into camp as a free agent and impressed the coaching stuff with his terrific speed and ability to score goals. Kevin Lebanc and Cordell James are also in their rookie seasons.

The most interesting battle will be between the pipes and who will be able to grab the number one starter’s position. Alex Fotinos is the guy for now but if he struggles like he did last year he could quickly find himself back on the bench. Slovakian import Daniel Gibil and Mackenzie Blackwood were equally as good in camp and are waiting for their opportunity at the starter’s role. 

Tuesday
Mar192013

Barrie Colts - Week 25 Review

by Taylor Pope (@TPope91)

The final week of the regular season was certainly an entertaining one for OHL fans across the league. Playoff matchups were nowhere near finalized as teams battled for positioning.

With three games left on the schedule, the Barrie Colts sat 4 points behind the Belleville Bulls for first place in the Eastern Conference and would almost certainly have to win all three games to have a chance of passing the Bulls.

The Colts were also scoreboard watching to see which team they would meet up with in the first round of the playoffs as Mississauga, Kingston and Peterborough were all battling for the final two spots.

Thursday night in Barrie, the Kingston Frontenacs were in town for a possible playoff preview of the first round.

The Frontenacs came out of the gate flying, knowing they needed a win to help their playoff chances.

Mathias Niederberger was sharp in the Barrie goal and the Frontenacs were unable to beat the German import through the first twenty minutes.

The game remained scoreless until a Colts powerplay goal by Steven Beyers put the home side on the board late in the second period.

Barrie would double their lead just 18 seconds after the Beyers goal when Zach Hall banged in his 24th of the season to make it 2-0 heading into the break.

Darcy Greenaway would cut the lead to one, 9:31 into the third period as Kingston kept fighting and were finally rewarded with a goal.

The Colts would respond quickly when Brendan Lemieux beat Mike Morrison for his 6th to regain the Colts two goal advantage.

While on a 5 on 3, the Frontenacs would once again cut the lead down to one but that’s as close as they would get.

Mark Scheifele scored on the empty net and Niederberger finished the night with 49 saves and the Colts skated away with a 4-2 win.

Friday, the Colts traveled to Brampton to take on a Battalion team that has had the Colts number all season.

Through the first five meetings, the Battalion held a 4-1 record and were hoping to dash the Colts chances at first place with a win.

Aaron Ekblad opened the scoring for Barrie as the Colts got off to a quick start but the “Bunker” has not been kind to the Colts this year and every visit things seem to change from good to bad in a hurry.

Brampton scored two quick goals just over three minutes apart and all of a sudden the Battalion had all the momentum.

The Battalion added another midway through the second period and the Colts could not get anything going. Brampton held Barrie to just 13 shots after two periods and held a 3-1 lead.

Beyers would score quickly to open the third period but the Battalion always seemed to have an answer whenever Barrie scored and it came in two’s.

Brampton scored two quick goals capped off by a Matt Macleod hat-trick to take a commanding 5-2 lead.

Barrie received some late powerplays and managed to get one goal back when Ryan O’Connor squeezed a shot through the legs of Jake Allen but they couldn’t get another and fell for the fifth time this season to Brampton, 5-3 the final.

The Colts chances at first place ended with the loss and a Belleville win so Saturday night’s game against Niagara was a meaningless game to both squads as neither team could improve on their position in the standings.

‘Let the kids play,’ that was the Colts motto before Saturday’s game against the visiting IceDogs as all the big guns and veterans were given the night off to rest.

Mark Scheifele, Anthony Camara, Zach Hall, Steven Beyers, Ryan O’Connor and Mathias Niederberger were all healthy scratches which meant the youngsters were given a shot at top line minutes.

No one took advantage of the extra ice time more than 19 year old Cody Brown. Brown has been the odd man out for most of the year, appearing in just 34 games entering the night but he was given every opportunity to shine and impress the coaching staff to put him in the lineup for the opening night of the playoffs.

Brown was flying all over the ice and he would set up the first goal. Brown threw the puck on goal and Dylan Corson and Justin Scott banged away before finally the puck crossed the line. Scott would get credit for his 4th goal of the year.

21 seconds later, Brendan Lemieux blew past the Niagara defence and as he was getting taken out into the end boards, he slid the puck out front to Erik Bradford who fired home his 18th.

Shayne Rover beat Alex Fotinos on a Niagara powerplay late in the first to make it 2-1 Barrie after one period.

Brown was buzzing around the net all game long and he set up Andreas Athanasiou on the powerplay to give the Colts their two goal lead back at 4:05 of the second frame.

Mack Lemmon beat Fotinos late in the period to keep Niagara in the game but they never really threatened in this game and the Colts hung on for a 3-2 win.

The Colts finished the year with a 44-20-2-2 record for 92 points and finished in second place in the Eastern Conference and fifth place overall in the league.

Barrie will play the seventh place Kingston Frontenacs in the first round of the playoffs. Barrie won the season series 3-1.

Schedule:

Thursday March 21 at Barrie 7:30

Saturday March 23 at Barrie 7:30

Monday March 25 at Kingston 7:00

Wednesday March 27 at Kingston 7:00

Thursday March 28 at Barrie 7:30*

Sunday March 31 at Kingston 7:00*

Monday April 1 at Barrie 7:30*

News and Notes:

The annual OHL coaches poll took place this past week and six Barrie Colts were recognized in the Eastern Conference.

Most Dangerous in the Goal Area: Mark Scheifele finished 1st

Best Shot: Mark Scheifele finished 1st

Best on Face-Offs: Mark Scheifele finished 2nd

Best Shootout Shooter: Mark Scheifele finished 2nd

Most Improved Player: Anthony Camara finished 2nd

Best Body Checker: Anthony Camara finished 3rd

Best Stickhandler: Andreas Athanasiou finished 2nd

Best Offensive Defenceman: Ryan O’Connor finished 1st

Best Defensive Defenceman: Aaron Ekblad finished 2nd

Best Shootout Goalie: Mathias Niederberger finished 2nd

Monday
Feb252013

Barrie Colts - Week 22 Review

by Taylor Pope (@TPope91)

The Barrie Colts came into the week losers of their last two games and sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference for the first time since October.

It was another tough week for Barrie and another set of three games in three nights starting at home Thursday night against their rivals, the Owen Sound Attack.

This game marked the fifth meeting between the two teams this season with Owen Sound leading the season series 3-1 and having won the previous three contests by a combined score of 8-1.

The Colts needed to find a way to solve Jordan Binnington who had looked unbeatable in their previous encounters.

Scoreless into the second period until nine seconds in, Zack Nastasiuk opened the scoring for the visitors.

Mark Scheifele would reply for Barrie eight minutes later with assists going to Zach Hall and Jonathon Laser.

Daniel Zweep would reply quickly for the Attack firing a shot through a screen that beat Mathias Niederberger 32 seconds after the Scheifele goal.

The Colts top line was battling hard all night and Scheifele would notch his second goal of the game late in the period to tie the game at two. Assists to Steven Beyers and Laser.

The chances went back and forth in the third period but neither team could solve the masked men.

In overtime, an odd man rush by the Attack was finished off by Kurtis Gabriel and the Colts losing streak would hit a season high, three games.

Friday night the Colts traveled to Sudbury for the fourth and final time this season. The hostile crowd was all over the Colts right from the beginning of warm-up.

The Wolves would strike late in the first period with two quick goals from Dominik Kahun and Nathan Pancel to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission.

The Wolves continued their ferocious attack and Kahun potted his second of the game 2:45 into the second period.

That would be the end of Mathias Niederberger’s night as the German import allowed 3 goals on 14 shots and was pulled for just the second time this season.

Alex Fotinos would come in relief and with the Colts down 3-0, frustrations began to boil.

Mark Scheifele lined up Brody Silk skating down the boards with a good hard check. Silk appeared to duck on the play, resulting in his head taking the brunt of the hit. Silk stayed down on the ice before being helped off and Scheifele was issued a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct. Scheifele was also given an unsportsmanlike game misconduct on the play.

With the two game misconducts issued on the same play, Scheifele was given a two game suspension.

The Colts would have to finish the game without their star forward. Sudbury scored once on the five minute powerplay, Pancel’s second goal of the game to stretch the lead to 4-0.

Once again though, you can never count the Barrie Colts out of a game. This team has had countless third period comebacks and it all starts with getting that first goal.

Andreas Athanasiou snapped a shot past Franky Palazzese to make it 4-1. Zach Hall then finished off a give and go with Athanasiou to cut the lead in half with 3:15 remaining.

Barrie pulled Fotinos and Athanasiou would score his second goal of the period with 1:38 remaining off a pass from Hall and all of the sudden the fans that were leaving for the exit, were heading back to their seats as it was 4-3.

The Colts fought hard for an equalizer but Danny Desroachers’ long clearing attempt curled into the empty net to give the Wolves a 5-3 win.

Alex Fotinos was solid in relief for the Colts. The second year goaltender made several highlight reel saves to keep the Colts in it even though they were down 4-0.

The Colts and Wolves will meet for the eighth and final time on March 7th in Barrie. Wolves lead the season series 4-3.

With the Colts losing streak at four games and their best player suspended, the Guelph Storm were looking take advantage of the Colts misfortunes and add to their misery as they came to the Barrie Molson Centre Saturday night.

The Colts were handed some bad news after warm-up as Mitchell Theoret was a late scratch as he was dealing with the flu. Barrie did have some good news as power forward Anthony Camara was back in the lineup after serving his six game suspension.

The Storm had the better chances in the first period, outshooting Barrie 17-10 but Niederberger was red hot after his sub-par performance the night before.

The game remained scoreless till the 15:24 mark when a nice three way passing play between Hall, Camara and Beyers found the back of the net. Beyers was left all alone beside Storm goalie Garrett Sparks and tapped in his 14th of the season.

In the third, on a Barrie powerplay, Alex Yuill rushed up the ice and dished the puck off to Brendan Lemieux who from behind the goal line found Tyson Fawcett atop the crease and he jammed in his 9th of the year to give the Colts a 2-0 lead.

Niederberger was solid the rest of the way stopping all 44 Storm shots fired his way for his third shutout of the season and 30th win.

The Colts sit 6 points back of the Belleville Bulls for first in the Eastern Conference as the Bulls are beginning to pull away as they are currently riding a 9 game winning streak.

Next up for the Colts (37-19-4): Owen Sound (38-17-4) makes a trip back the Molson Centre exactly one week later as the teams will meet Thursday night. Barrie then travels to face division rivals the Mississauga Steelheads (25-29-5) on Friday. 

Tuesday
Feb192013

Barrie Colts - Week 21 Review

by Taylor Pope (@TPope91)

It was a week that started on a high, with a 10-1 thumping of the lowly Ottawa 67’s and then a return to the Barrie Molson Centre for the first time in three weeks that ended with a 3-0 win over Mississauga.

But a collapse in Brampton on Sunday and a loss in Belleville on Monday meant the Barrie Colts were no longer the “Beasts of the East” as they fell to second place for the first time in months.

Wednesday night’s contest started with some bad news for the Colts as Anthony Camara was issued a 6 game suspension for a cross check that had occurred in Plymouth on February 8th.

Even without Camara, the goals came fast and furious in this game and the Colts were lead by Mark Scheifele who notched a hat-trick at the mid-way point of the second period and finished the game with 3 goals and 6 points.

Zach Hall and Erik Bradford each had 2 goals and 4 points and Brendan Lemieux who entered the game with 5 points on the year, had a career best 4 point night with a goal and 3 assists in front of his father Claude, who was in attendance.

Andreas Athanasiou and Mitchell Theoret rounded out the scoring for Barrie with singles.

Mathias Niederberger was solid in goal stopping 28 of 29 shots for the win. The same can’t be said for the 67’s goaltenders as Clint Windsor and Jacob Blair were both lit up for 5 goals apiece.

Saturday, the Colts returned home after their 6 game road trip and it was the Steelheads who were in town.

A slow pace at times in this game but the Colts played a sound 60 minutes of hockey which is something they haven’t been able to do in recent weeks.

“I thought that was one of our few games of the year where we played a full 60 minutes and really put it to them the whole game and it was good to see.” Said Colts defenceman Alex Yuill.

The Steelheads never really threatened in this game and Barrie got goals from Hall, Athanasiou and Theoret to walk away with a 3-0 victory.

Niederberger picked up his second shutout of the year, making 28 saves in the win.

The game was physical at times and two 16 year old rookies dropped the gloves in the second period when CJ Garcia and Bobby MacIntyre went toe to toe. Both players landed several punches as there was no defence in this bout.

Late in the third Alex Lepkowski squared up with Craig Hottot for his first fight in nearly two seasons. The much bigger Lepkowski took the win.

The Colts traveled to Brampton on Sunday and the game started well for them as they took a quick 2-0 lead after goals by Bradford and Scheifele.

The Battalion added a late powerplay marker to end the first period to cut the lead in half.

In the second, the dust unraveled for Barrie, a sharp angled shot squeaked through the arm of Alex Fotinos to tie the game.

Three minutes later, bad defensive zone coverage lead to the Battalion taking the lead 3-2 as Patrik Machac was left all alone streaking to the goal.

Off the ensuing faceoff, a long dump in bounced off the pads of Fotinos right to Machac who passed it to Brandon Robinson and just like that it was 4-2 Brampton 5:06 into the second period.

Theoret would cut the deceit to 4-3 but again, another bad goal given up by Fotinos would regain the Battalion’s two goal lead.

Niederberger would start the third for Barrie and he would face just two shots and the Battalion held on for the 5-3 win.

The Brampton Battalion have been the Colts kryptonite this season. Through five meetings, the Battalion hold a 4-1 lead. The two teams will meet once more on March 15th.

Family Day Monday really gave the Colts a chance to be a family and spend a lot of time together. The trip from Barrie to Belleville is normally about two and a half hours. On this Family Day, it took the Colts 6 hours to finally make it to Belleville.

A tractor trailer accident left the Colts team bus trapped on the 401 for 3 hours before they were finally able to turn around and get to Belleville. The game was delayed two hours and as much as the fans were disgruntled with the delay; they certainly weren’t going anywhere and missing this game.

It was the battle for first in the East as the surging Bulls had cut Barrie’s lead a top the Eastern Conference to just one point. 

Mathias Niederberger and Malcom Subban who sit 1-2 in league save percentage went head to head for the first time this season.

Both teams had glorious chances in the first period but the game remained scoreless.

Tyler Graovac pounced on a rebound off a Jordan Subban shot to bury the game’s opening goal at the five minute mark of the second.

That’s the way it stood until the mid-way point of the third period when Joseph Cramarossa was hauled down on a breakaway by Jonathon Laser and was awarded a penalty shot.

Cramarossa came down on Niederberger with a full head of steam and he made a quick move to the backhand and slipped the puck through the legs of Niederberger to give the Bulls an all important insurance goal.

Barrie held ferocious pressure late, pulling Niederberger with three minutes remaining with a two man advantage to give them a 6 on 3.

No one could solve Subban and the Colts hit three goal posts and the already long day became even longer as a frustrated group went home in second place after a tough 3-0 loss as the Bulls would add a late empty netter.

The Bulls have now won 6 in a row and are 9 and 1 in their last 10 games.

Next up for the Colts (36-18-3): After playing the past 8 of 9 on the road Barrie will host the Owen Sound Attack (36-17-4) on Thursday night before heading to Sudbury (25-21-11) on Friday for a big divisional game. The Colts then round out another 3 in 3 with a home date against the Guelph Storm (32-19-5) on Saturday.  

News and Notes:

Anthony Camara is eligible to return from his suspension on Saturday against Guelph.

Mark Scheifele has been on fire since returning from Winnipeg. The 19 year old has 8 goals and 15 points in 7 games since before returned to Barrie.

“It’s pretty awesome, he averages about 2 goals a game so that helps out the offense a lot and he just plays so many minutes and he’s so strong, everything he does is good and it’s just wicked to have him back.” Colts defenceman Alex Yuill when asked what it’s like to have Scheifele back in the lineup.

Scheifele loves playing Ottawa, in 3 games this year he has 7 goals and 16 points. Zach Hall loves the 67’s too; in 4 games Hall has 5 goals and 15 points.

Scheifele registered his 200th career OHL point on Saturday night with an assist on Hall’s opening goal.

Ryan O’Connor played in his 300th career OHL game on Sunday in Brampton. The overager is close to another milestone as he sits just 2 points away from 200 on his career.