Punnett’s scoring prowess propels Colts past Attack

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The Barrie Colts travelled to Owen Sound to wrap up the Highway 26 Series on Wednesday night against the Attack. Barrie had won three of the previous five meetings.

 The first period may have been scoreless, but uneventful it was not. The Attack bombarded Colts goaltender Jet Greaves early in the period, finishing the frame with an 19-11 shot advantage. The Attack also hit two posts, the first one off the stick of Stephen Machacek and the second from Aidan Dudas.

 The save of the period, however, was made not by Greaves, but by Brandt Clarke. Clarke was poke-checked at the blue-line and Ethan Burroughs brought back in transition. He fed it onto the wing for Kaleb Lawrence, whose shot was stopped. Barrie native Barrett Kirwin followed up the play, but was somehow denied by Clarke, who was stationed behind Greaves. 

Greaves was the only reason the Colts didn’t trail after one, and was the main reason they took the lead early in the second. They turned the puck over at the blue-line and forced Greaves into two stops off Kaleb Pearson and Matthew Struthers. That initiated a Colts counterattack, and a slick three-way passing play. The play ended with Victor Hadfield dropping it for Connor Punnet, who fired home his first career OHL goal to make it 1-0.

But Owen Sound would respond just after the halfway mark. The Attack brought it in over the line and it ended up on the stick of Kirwin, who drove the net and got a shot off on Greaves that was stopped. The Colts were caught standing around and Kirwin followed up his own shot and slid one around Greaves for his 30th of the season to tie the game.

Barrie got a power play on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to Machachek, but things were evened up on a questionable slashing call to Ethan Cardwell. With the Attack pressing late in the 4-on-4 situation, as Sergey Popov collected a rebound and went cross-ice to Carter Robertson, who hit the post short-side. Anthony Tabak headmanned the loose puck the other way to Josh Nelson, and the overage forward broke in alone and made a sweet move five-hole on Mack Guzda for his 16th of the year. That restored the Barrie lead at 2-1.

They had a glorious chance to extend the lead late in the period. After an Aidan Brown shot went off a stick over the net, it bounced back to the side of the net and eventually out to Tyson Foerster, who was stopped by Guzda. Nathan Allensen then had the loose puck come back to him at the point. He, too, was stopped, and Foerster and Brown both hacked away at the rebound but couldn’t put it home. The Colts led 2-1 after 40, and outshot Owen Sound 13-12 in the second stanza.

Barrie came into this game without a loss when leading through two periods, and an early insurance marker went a long way toward keeping that stat in tact. The Colts had a terrific shift in the offensive zone, and it finished with Punnett sending one down low for Cardwell, who settled the puck down and banked it off the glove of Brady Lyle and past Guzda to make it 3-1 Colts on his 23rd goal of the year.

Owen Sound put on limited pressure throughout the remainder of the period, and with just under five minutes to go, the Colts put it away. Shortly after a rare offensive push from the Attack, Mark Woolley turned the puck over in front to Brown, who played it to Evan Vierling. Punnett stepped in from the point, and nobody picked him up, except for Vierling. Punnett buried the back-door feed for the second of his night and career, making it 4-1 and all but ensuring a season-series victory for the Colts over the Attack. 

Hadfield thought he had a fifth Barrie tally with just seconds remaining, but the officials deemed, upon review, that a glove pass from Cardwell led to the goal, thus nullifying what would have been Hadfield’s 9th on the year.

The Colts  once again moved above the .500 mark with their 29th win of the season. They will have a couple days to recoup as they get set to begin a home-and-home with the North Bay Battalion this weekend – the first game going Saturday night at the Colts Centre.

Tickets for that game can be purchased here.

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