Courtesy of Stephen Sweet: Barrie Examiner
The Barrie Colts couldn’t afford to go down 3-1 in their Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series against the Mississauga Steelheads.
But trailing after giving up a pair of power-play goals in the third, the Colts needed to dig deep.
They would tie the game, sending it to overtime, and 4:46 into the extra period, Justin Scott scored his fourth goal of the contest to give Barrie a 6-5 win and even the series at 2-2.
“After Game 3, losing in double overtime, it was tough,” Scott said. “It was important for us to come out with a strong effort and it’s huge that we got the win there.”
After Dylan Sadowy slid across his own zone to block a Steelheads attempt, he knocked the puck forward for Scott, who came in on a 2-on-1.
Scott made a move to the front of the net, getting Steelheads starter Jack Flinn to open up, and beat him through the five-hole to tie the series.
“It was a great defensive play by Sadowy to block the pass, and then me and (Andrew) Mangiapane went up the ice on a 2-on-1,” Scott said. “(Their defenceman) was covering ‘Mang pretty good, so I stepped up there and got him to open up.”
There was a big reason why the Colts were able to pull this one out.
“Justin Scott,” said Colts defenceman Rasmus Andersson, deadpan. “He scored four goals.
“Obviously, that was unbelievable by him, getting four goals and putting us back on the board here.”
It was going to be a new challenge for the Colts, playing in front of a different goaltender for their biggest game of the year to date.
David Ovsjannikov, starting his first-ever OHL playoff game, did give up the opening goal, but it wasn’t his fault.
Alexander Nylander got the puck – and plenty of space – at the right faceoff dot and walked in, out-waiting Ovsjannikov before going around him and slipping the puck past him on the short side.
Mississauga would get another power play shortly after, but that just allowed Barrie to get back to what it did so well in the regular season – score while a man down.
Kevin Labanc carried the puck into the Mississauga end with the speed and took an initial shot that was stopped by Flinn.
He would get his own rebound and be denied there as well, but with Mississauga’s Stephen Gibson attempting to clear the puck, Mangiapane got his stick on the puck, deflecting the defensive effort into the Steelheads net to tie the game.
The Colts were playing stronger than they had in Game 3, looking tougher in their own end and creating some space in the offensive zone.
Labanc carried the puck around the net and fought off a checker to set up Scott in front, and the centre made a quick move before beating Flinn on the blocker side, making it 2-1 Barrie after a period.
“Any time you can play with two guys like (Labanc and Mangiapane), they play the right way,” Scott said. “We have some chemistry from years past.”
Although the Colts were looking very good for the most of the first, that didn’t carry over into the second.
Barrie made a bad habit of chasing the puck in its own end and one line got caught out on the ice too long, allowing Mississauga to set up an equalizer.
Jared Walsh’s point shot was stopped, but Daniel Muzito-Bagenda was on the doorstep to whack home the rebound, making it a 2-2 game.
The goal gave the Steelheads some life, and it wouldn’t be long until they caught the Colts watching the puck again, with Michael McLeod knocking in what was originally a failed attempt from Nathan Bastian in the slot to take the lead.
Barrie rolled just its top two lines for the bulk of the final few minutes of the second, and it worked.
The Colts created a number of good chances and held possession in the Mississauga end, with Mangiapane and Labanc getting denied by Flinn.
Barrie continued to send bodies to the front of the net and it would pay off, as Andersson sent a low shot through traffic that beat Flinn, tying the contest up at 3-3 after 40 minutes.
“We’ve just got to keep working them down low and getting pucks to the net,” Andersson said. “We need to get a lot of traffic and get pucks through.”
The third period began with a parade to the penalty box for the Colts, one that could have had dire consequences.
Barrie picked up three minors in a row, including two that overlapped, and that allowed the Steelheads to strike twice on a pair of 5-on-3’s.
First, Muzito-Bagenda had all day on a cross-crease pass from Bastian to score the go-ahead marker, and then Nylander wired a high shot off of the crossbar and in to make it 5-3 Mississauga.
After gaining a two-goal cushion, the Steelheads began to sit back in their defensive shell, which was broken through frequently by Barrie’s top line.
The Colts entered the zone with speed and worked it around, sending the puck around the boards and up to Michael Webster.
He wisely set the puck on a platter for Scott, who stepped into a shot and blasted one that squeaked through Flinn’s five-hole.
“The last 12 minutes, we didn’t let them out of their own zone,” Andersson said. “We just jammed them in and kept it down low.
“That’s how we have to play for a whole 60 minutes, not just the last 10 of the third.”
Scott would complete the hat trick and tie the game when he fired home a cross-ice pass from Labanc with 3:41 left in the third.
“We battled a little bit of adversity, going down 5-3 early in the period, but we kept our composure,” Scott said. “That was huge.”
Barrie nearly ended the game in regulation, but neither Scott nor Mangiapane could get their sticks free on loose pucks in front of the net.
Ovsjannikov would get tested early in overtime, with Nylander having a great opportunity in front of the goal, but the big Czech stayed compact and didn’t give him a hole.
That afforded enough time for Scott to head up the ice and put home his fourth of the game, sending the series back to Barrie all square.
Game 5 is back at the Barrie Molson Centre on Saturday night. For tickets, visit the BMC Box Office or click here.