The Barrie Colts will face their nemesis from this season for one last dance Thursday night at the BMC, giving the Colts one last chance at beating the Sudbury Wolves.
Sudbury has had Barrie’s number all season long, taking all seven decisions with the Colts managing to muster just a single point against their division rival.
“They always work hard against us and I think we have a stroke of bad luck with them too,” said Alternate Captain Tyler Mort. “Whenever we play them they always come hard and we just have to be ready for that.”
In October these teams hooked up for a home and home series with Sudbury winning both games by a 4-3 margin, setting the tone on the eight-game season-series.
Barrie scored three goals in each of the first six games of the series, picking up another 4-3 loss, to go with 5-3, 6-3 and 8-3 defeats.
On January 21st, their most recent meeting, the Wolves edged Barrie 3-2 in their fourth one-goal game of the season-series.
On Thursday night in Barrie the Colts would love for nothing more then to play spoiler as the Wolves look to climb to a better seed in the Eastern Conference.
“Well obviously we want to win the game Thursday night and go out on a high note,” said Mort. “We definitely want to avoid being swept in the regular season-series.”
In the past 14 years no team has won all eight games in the season-series, but Barrie did beat the Wolves in seven of eight contests a year ago.
Coach Dale Hawerchuk knows that two or three wins against the pesky Wolves would have gone a long way for his clubs playoff aspirations.
“Yeah absolutely, when you look at the series with them obviously a few wins would have really helped our chances,” said Hawerchuk. “But it’s like that with a few teams, I mean we have played in a lot of one-goal games.”
Instead the Colts find themselves mathematically eliminated from the post-season for the first time in franchise history.
“We’re playing for pride right now,” admitted Mort. “I mean we’re a young group and we know what we’re up against and even though we’re not making the playoffs we are still playing for ourselves and we’re playing for this organization.”
Barrie has only two weeks and five games left on the schedule and currently sit with 13 wins on the season. A far cry from the 57-9-0-2 record they posted a season ago.
“Well we’re a very young team and we went through some hiccups this season that will help better prepare this team for the future,” said Hawerchuk.
“We had to make some tough decisions when we realized that Clifford and Burmistrov weren’t coming back and we feel that we’re on the right path here in our rebuild.”
Seven of Sudbury’s 27 wins have come against the Colts this season as they sit in seventh in the conference and are within reach of the sixth-seeded Brampton Battalion.
They have won four of their last six overall and have gotten a spark from former Colt Michael Sgarbossa.
The center has 25 goals and 52 points in 32 games since joining the Wolves, and 72 points overall.
The Campbellville native leads the team in goals, points, plus-minus, and power play goals.
“Well they really do have a lot of weapons over there and they’re starting to get healthier too,” commented Hawerchuk. “So we need to have a balanced attack and I thought that really the biggest weapon they’ve had all season long has been Valiquette.”
Alain Valiquette has played in 56 of the Wolves 63 games and has played more minutes than any other player in the OHL this season. He has stymied the Colts on all seven occasions this year, averaging just over 30 saves per game.
“Yeah he’s been tough, but I think if we all come together and really pull together for a full 60 minutes we can get a couple more by him,’ said Mort.
The Colts and the Wolves are tied for 16th in goals for in the OHL. Barrie is averaging nearly three and a half goals per game but has failed to score more than three in any game against Sudbury.
“Well we just need to get traffic in front of him and send pucks hard to the net and just dig away and hope to get a couple of cheap ones,” said Barrie’s Head Coach.
Barrie will get Friday night off before concluding their weekend with back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday.
The Bulls come to the BMC on Saturday night and then the Colts hit the road in Brampton Sunday afternoon.