Colts eliminate Majors
TERRY WILSON Photo Members of the Barrie Colts celebrate Anthony Camara's series-clinching overtime goal against the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors on Monday night at the Hershey Centre. The Colts will face the Ottawa 67's in the second round.
It was easily the best period of the playoffs so far.
And at the kind of breakneck speed the game was going, someone had to win it.
Anthony Camara scored the overtime winner as the Barrie Colts defeated the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors 3-2 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Quarter-finals to take the opening-round series by a 4-2 count.
"It was a bad bounce on the boards and (Steven) Beyers picked up the puck," Camara said.
"I was thinking of going behind him but (instead) I decided to go to the net hard and went head down, stick on the ice, and it hit my stick and went in."
He roofed the puck on the two-on-one attempt over Mississauga netminder Brandon Maxwell and went straight for the celebration.
"Everything was just spinning," Camara said. "I was just trying to get to my team and have fun."
Considering that one team was facing elimination, overtime turned out to be quite the track meet.
"It's definitely the most intense game I've ever played in," said rookie defenceman Alex Yuill. "Definitely a little bit nervous, but your adrenaline takes over and it's awesome."
Dan Erlich nearly got a gift in overtime on a bad clearing attempt that wound up in front, but Maxwell covered up just in time.
At the other end, Jamie Wise got a great chance that Barrie starter Mathias Niederberger had to make an awkward stop on, leaving him out of position.
Mika Partanen took too long to fire the rebound, and by the time he did, Niederberger and two Colts were in front of it, ready to make the stop.
Mark Scheifele had a pair of opportunities at one end while Brett Foy narrowly missed the net on another, as each team churned out 11 shots apiece, attempting to end the contest.
The German goaltender, who said he'd never played in an overtime quite like this before, had to fight the nerves of a pressure-packed situation.
"Yeah, for sure a little bit, but I tried to calm myself," Niederberger said. "I have the team playing unbelievable, so it was easier for me."
They tried to keep things simple and it worked.
"We played our structure," Yuill said. "We knew that if we did that and outworked them, we'd get the win."
Barrie would indeed earn the victory with 28 seconds remaining in the first overtime period, and the team poured over the bench to celebrate.
"I was just so happy," Yuill said. "I don't think I've ever been that happy before. I just jumped up and celebrated with the boys."
The opening period saw a number of different scenarios, but none of them led to a goal.
Niederberger was flashing the leather early on, making a couple of glove saves, as well as a point-blank stop with the blocker on Jamie Wise.
"I'm there to stop pucks," Niederberger said. "I had fun and I just had to give 100% and have fun, and it turned out that it was the right thinking."
At the other end, Maxwell was coming out and making stops, but gave up the occasional rebound, including one to Colin Behenna at the side of the goal.
But the Colts captain was held up and unable to get his stick on the puck, ending the scoring threat.
Mississauga would strike first in the second period, while shorthanded.
After Beyers was taken down hard in the corner, Wise stepped out in front and snapped a shot past Niederberger to put the Majors on the board.
Beyers left the game with an injury and wouldn't return until overtime.
The Colts responded less than two minutes later, when Aaron Ekblad wristed a harmless-looking shot from the right that beat Maxwell to tie the game.
"We were just doing the little things right," Camara said. "If we went down on an odd-man rush, we tried to come back hard and help our defence."
After a pair of nice saves by both goatlenders, it was Partanen who used his 6"2, 205-pound frame to bounce off of a couple of defenders, cut in and blast a bad-angle attempt over the shoulder of Niederberger to restore a one-goal Majors lead.
But Barrie would once again even things up, when Behenna's point shot found its way through Maxwell to bring the score to 2-2 through two, albeit not before a spirited bout between Wise and Reid McNeill.
As the game neared the end of regulation, the pace picked up.
Mississauga continued to fire the puck at Niederberger, taking 35 shots through the first three periods, but couldn't beat him in the third.
Josh MacDonald nearly pulled the Colts ahead when he hit a post on the man advantage, and then Ivan Telegin nearly connected with Behenna on a high-speed rush, but neither could hit the back of the net, sending the game to overtime for the first time this series.
Barrie's next opponent will be the second-seeded Ottawa 67's, and the Colts figure on sticking with what has gotten them this far.
"We're just going to keep doing the same thing," Camara said. "Obviously it worked in this series, and we'll just keep going and keep riding the high."
And by avoiding the game tomorrow night, they'll have a chance to be fresh going into Ottawa.
"We've got our bumps and bruises and a lot of guys have ice packs in the room," Camara said. "We'll heal well and be ready for the next series."
Game 1 will go on Friday night in Ottawa.
Er-xperience: Dan Erlich has the most playoff experience amongst current Barrie Colts forwards and also has the most post-season points. Coming into Monday's game, his 41st contest of his post-season career, the diminutive forward has managed 15 goals and 29 assists for 44 points. He's picked up a pair of assists through the first six games of the 2012 playoffs.
Keeping 'em out: Mathias Niederberger and Brandon Maxwell have been the story for most of this first-round series, so it seems natural that they're near the top of most goaltending categories. Maxwell and Niederberger came into Monday third and fourth, respectively, in goals-against average, while Maxwell was sitting just .003 ahead of Niederberger in save percentage, which was the difference between third and fifth. Each has posted one shutout.
Not dressed for tonight's game: Barrie was without Zach Hall (concussion), Tanner Pearson (fibula), Jonathan Laser and Gregg Sutch (shoulder). The Majors scratched Barrie native Jacob Graves, Scott Teskey, Grant Syrette and Doug Harvey.
Out of town scoreboard: One more series was decided on Monday night, as the Ottawa 67's edged the Belleville Bulls 2-1, taking things in six games. The victory ensures that Barrie will face the 67's, beginning that series on Friday night in the nation's capital.
How the first round shaped up:
Game 1 Mississauga 1 @ Barrie 3
Game 2 Barrie 0 @ Mississauga 4
Game 3 Mississauga 0 @ Barrie 4
Game 4 Barrie 2 @ Mississauga 3
Game 5 Mississauga 1 @ Barrie 2
Game 6 Barrie 3 @ Mississauga 2 (O/T)
OTTAWA vs. BARRIE
Game 1 - Friday, 7 p.m. @ Ottawa
Game 2 - Sunday, 2 p.m. @ Ottawa
Game 3 - Tuesday, April 10, 7:30 p.m., @ Barrie
Game 4 - Thursday April 12, 7:30 p.m. @ Barrie
* Game 5 - Friday, April 13, 7:30 p.m. @ Ottawa
* Game 6 - Sunday, April 15, 7:30 p.m. @ Barrie
* Game 7 - Tuesday, April 17, 7 p.m. @ Ottawa
* if necessary
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Mark Scheifele: 2A
Anthony Camara: 1G (overtime winner)
Aaron Ekblad: 1G
Colin Behenna: 1G
Ivan Telegin: 1A
Steven Beyers: 1A
Chris Buonomo: 1A
Mathias Niederberger: 44 saves