Colts Pocket a Point in road game against League-Best 67’s

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The Barrie Colts were in for a tough test on Saturday afternoon as they travelled to Ottawa to tangle with the Ottawa 67’s in a nationally-televised game on Sportsnet. The game also featured the first ever head-to-head matchup between Barrie’s Brandt Clarke and his brother Graeme, of Ottawa.

The Colts survived the initial push from Ottawa, but shortly before the six-minute mark, the 67’s cracked the scoreboard. Nikita Okhotyuk started a breakout with a pass to Jack Quinn, who then played it for Jack Beck. Beck played a little tic-tac-toe with Mitchell Hoelscher, and Beck eventually had an easy tap-in for his 6th of the season.

Before the halfway mark of the period, the 67’s extended their lead on a lucky marker. The 67’s gained the zone courtesy of Marco Rossi who then sent a drop-pass for Barrie’s own Alec Belanger. He fired a shot wide, Daylon Groulx drove the net and, from behind the goal line, banked the puck off Colts goaltender Arturs Silovs and in. Groulx’s 15th goal of the season gave Ottawa a 2-0 lead.

Barrie was able to survive a lengthy 4-on-3 powerplay for Ottawa, and had a few late chances, the two best from Ethan Cardwell and Aidan Brown, but trailed 2-0 after 20 minutes.

The Colts started the second period with an early power play, but despite applying some pressure, were unable to register a shot. They did, however, pace the play for the first half of the period, outshooting Ottawa 6-1 in the opening ten minutes. The visitors would not relent on the pressure and managed to get on the board. Off a won faceoff, Clarke fired the puck toward the net. The shot was redirected by Evan Vierling, who was able to gather in the rebound and slide it underneath 67’s netminder Will Cranley. Vierling’s 13th of the season cut Ottawa’s lead in half.

Barrie wasn’t done. They were handed another man-advantage thanks to a Teddy Sawyer cross-checking call. This time, they would convert. Tyson Foerster did some dogged work along the boards to win a puck battle and got the puck back up high. Vierling found Nathan Allensen, who set one up on a tee for Foerster, and he one-timed home his 32nd of the year – and 15th while a man up – five hole on Cranley to tie the game at 2.

The tie, though, was short-lived. Anthony Tabak brought the puck into the Ottawa zone, but had the play broken up by Joseph Garreffa. Belanger fired a shot on goal that was stopped, but Garreffa was there to finish what he started, burying the rebound for his 33rd to re-acquire the advantage for Ottawa.

The 67’s continued to pressure after the go-ahead goal but were unable to regain their two-goal edge and led 3-2 after two periods of play.

The third period was rather uneventful in terms of quality chances despite a large shot discrepancy in favour of the 67’s. It was the Colts, though, who would net the period’s only goal. Brown took a slashing minor, but things were evened up when Jack Quinn hacked at Silovs after the whistle and was also assessed a slashing minor. The Colts enjoyed just over a minute of power-play time, and just as that expired, got back level. Josh Nelson narrowly missed an open net on a back-door feed from Ethan Cardwell. The 67’s were unable to clear, and Victor Hadfield found Nelson, who spun and fired a shot through traffic that found the back of the net for his 14th of the year and 10th as a Colt.

Barrie played conservatively through the remaining six minutes but didn’t give up any threatening looks. They were able to secure themselves a point and aimed to hand Ottawa its first overtime loss of the season in their ninth game to go beyond regulation.

The visitors would not get their wish. Nelson tried to sneak past Kevin Bahl along the boards and was cut off, which led to a 2-on-1. That was broken up by Clarke, but the Colts never again touched the puck. Garreffa received the puck in the high slot, spun and found Cameron Tolnai down low. Tolnai walked out of the corner and roofed one over the shoulder of Silovs for his 7th of the year and the game winner to give the 67’s a 4-3 win.

Barrie Colts finish their weekend Sunday in Peterborough against the Petes in what is a potential first-round playoff preview.

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