The Barrie Colts headed to Erie for a rare Wednesday night affair and their final game South of the border this season.
Barrie was gifted a power play just 25 seconds into the game when the Otters’ Kyen Sopa was assessed a cross-checking call. The Colts had four shots on the man advantage, but failed to solve Erie netminder Aidan Campbell.
After that power play, the pace slowed dramatically through the remainder of the first half of the period. There were 23 faceoffs in the frame; only seven of them were after the 11-minute mark. Barrie controlled much of the play in the final ten minutes of the opening period, but were still unable to beat Campbell. His best save came on a diving stop on Jacob Frasca on a rebound bid off a Nathan Allensen shot.
The Colts were finally able to put one past Campbell inside the final minute of the first period. Brandt Clarke – who has been one of Barrie’s most impressive players since the appointment of Todd Miller as head coach on January 21 – made a terrific play to keep a puck alive at the blue line. It eventually ended up on the stick of Victor Hadfield, who found Josh Nelson in the high slot, and the overage forward powdered one past Campbell for his 10th of the year and sixth since being acquired by the Colts at the deadline.
The shots were 16-12 in favour of the visitors after 20.
The second started in less-than-ideal fashion for Barrie, however. Ryan Del Monte took a double-minor for high-sticking, and the Otters capitalized. Defenceman Jacob Golden sifted to the middle of the ice and fired a low shot toward the goal. The shot took a double-deflection, first off Sopa, then off Hayden Fowler and past Silovs. Fowler’s 18th of the year brought Erie back on level terms.
Then, after Jack Duff took a high-sticking minor, both teams traded tremendous scoring chances. First, Josh Nelson found Nicholas Porco alone in front, and his shot was denied by Campbell. A rebound lay loose in the blue ice, but no one was there to put it home. Erie, then, responded in transition, as Drew Hunter put one off the post from the left faceoff dot.
Late in the second, the Otters took their first lead of the game. After making a nice defensive play, Chad Yetman sent a long-up pass to Sopa, who had a breakaway from centre ice in, and undressed Colts’ goaltender Arturs Silovs to put the Otters up, 2-1.
Despite being limited to five shots in the second, Barrie would even it up before time elapsed in the middle stanza. With 50 seconds remaining, Nicholas Porco skated down the near wing, had cut to the slot, had his shot stopped, but Frasca was there to bury the rebound, exacting some revenge after being robbed earlier on a similar play. The teams were deadlocked at deuces after two.
The third period began with a parade to the penalty box. First, Duff took his second minor of the night, an interference call. Then, just three seconds after that infraction expired, Anthony Tabak was sent off for the same misdeed, sending the Otters to the power play. On almost, a carbon copy of their initial power play marker in the first, Fowler tipped in a point shot – this one courtesy of Yetman – to restore Erie’s advantage.
Play began to open up midway through the period. Right after Frasca missed another golden opportunity in front, Maxime Golod took a headman feed from the Erie zone, stickhandled by Nathan Allensen, and got a shot away that was stopped by Silovs. Then, shortly after, Clarke took a pass on the far point, walked into the middle, over to the left wing and around pretty much the entire Otters contingent on the ice, but was stopped by Campbell. The puck was on the goal line, but somehow never crossed it, as the Otters remained up a goal.
Inside the final five minutes Erie nearly – and probably should have – extended their lead. After a misplay at centre by the Colts, Golod found Emmett Sproule streaking to the net on the 2-on-1. Sproule deeked around Silovs, but couldn’t tuck it into the yawning cage, instead putting it off the post.
That would come back to haunt the hosts, as Barrie continued its theme of last-minute-of-period goals in this game. This time, it was Evan Veirling extending his point streak to five with a somewhat lucky goal that hit an Erie body en route, getting past Campbell with 32 seconds on the clock to tie it at 3.
They had a couple of chances to win it in regulation, but nothing materialized – sending the game to overtime and ensuring a point for Barrie in an eighth game in the last nine. Both teams had chances to end it in the extra period – none better than Sproule, who was robbed on another 2-on-1 after being fed by Daniel D’Amato – but neither team was able to earn the win in overtime, thus bringing about a shootout.
After both teams went without a goal through the first five shooters, it was Clarke coming in on the left wing, moving to the middle and going backhand on Campbell for his first career shootout goal and the game winner, as Barrie moves to within a point of 5th-place Mississauga and four points behind Sudbury for first in the Central Division.
The Colts wrap up a rare midweek back-to-back Thursday in Niagara before returning to Colts Centre on Saturday night to host the North Bay Battalion at 7:30 pm.
Tickets for that game can be purchased here.