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.
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