Sports

Barrie brings out the brooms 0

IAN SHANTZ

Onward and upward.

With a 5-2 win against the hard-working, but more talent-strapped Brampton Battalion in front of 2,229 fans here Wednesday, the Barrie Colts have cruised through yet another playoff round.

Four games is all it took for Barrie to silence the Sudbury Wolves in the first round.

And four games is all it took for Barrie to erase the Battalion in the second round.

Make it eight straight playoff wins. Make it a date with Mississauga or Ottawa in what will be Barrie's first appearance in the conference final since 2005-06, when Peterborough zapped 'em in five games.

"So far, so good," said Colts captain Stefan Della Rovere, who scored twice and added an assist in the clincher. "It's great to see us go through these two series, but we know it's just going to get harder from here on out."

The Battalion, a season removed from reaching the Ontario Hockey League final, could only keep skating and hope for a miracle that never came.

"Playing here for four years, I don't know too many teams that would beat that team head-to-head in a seven-game series," said Battalion star Cody Hodgson, a high-end NHL draft pick who played his final game with the Troops, an organization he's spent his entire four-year OHL career with.

"I'm real proud of the guys for trying," the 19-year-old added. "We did the best we could."

A three-goal Barrie burst in the second period was the difference as the Colts -- who finished the season with 57 wins and 116 points -- closed out an overpowering, one-sided series tipped heavily in favour of the CHL's top-ranked team from the get-go.

"I thought we got better as the series went on," Barrie head coach Marty Williamson said. "You always try to take your opponent's strength away from them. They were one of the best defensive teams in the league , and I thought we played better defence."

The Battalion hung with the Colts early, leaving the first period tied at 1-1, as Darren Archibald and Sean Jones exchanged goals.

But Bryan Cameron's eighth of the playoffs less than a minute into the second was followed up by Colin Behenna's tally, his second in as many games.

And when Stefan Della Rovere made it 4-1 midway through the period, this thing was effectively over.

That spread-out offence of Barrie's came through once again.

"Della Rovere, big game, Archibald stepping up for us, it really has been the key to this team," Williamson said. "Different guys step up."

Dominic Alberga struck early for Brampton in the third, but the home team's last-ditch effort hit one final bump when Della

Rovere notched his second of the game five minutes later to make it 5-2.

T.J. Brodie might have made a few too many moves when he was stopped on his penalty-shot opportunity less than a minute before Della Rovere's goal in the middle stanza, but the Colts have enough moves stockpiled to get the job done.

That was the case all series. "They're a very good hockey

team. They played well," said Battalion head coach and director of hockey operations Stan Butler. "We played hard. It is what it is."

With the win, Barrie has hit the half-way mark in its drive towards the Memorial Cup.

They'll have extra time to rest up -- injuries rocked the roster this series -- and then it's time to get back to the task at hand.

After all, this is only the beginning, promised Della Rovere.

"It'll be a new series and a whole new story," the 19-year-old winger said. "We've just got to go in with a sharp mindset, and, hopefully, we can go in with some momentum from this series and last series."

Mavric Parks, who has taken over for an injured Peter Di Salvo, made 27 saves for his third straight playoff win, while Patrick Killeen stopped 24 pucks in the losing cause.

The Mississauga-Ottawa series, currently locked at 2-2, resumes in the nation's capital on Thursday night.


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