Colts eliminated in overtime
It was back and forth to the point where no one knew who was going to win it anymore.
All it took was one bounce to make the difference.
In the end, that turned out to be enough to end the Barrie Colts' season.
Brett Gustavsen scored at 2:09 of the first overtime as the Ottawa 67's eliminated the Colts 4-3 at the J. Benson Cartage Centre in Ottawa, Tuesday night.
The 67's three consecutive wins gave them the Eastern Conference semifinal series, 4-3.
"I'm really proud of the team," said Colts goaltender Mathias Niederberger. "They did a great job and we had a great season. I think we showed everybody that we had character."
But a depleted lineup in the extra frame couldn't get it done, as an awkward clearing attempt towards the end boards was picked up by Gustavsen, who wristed a shot through Niederberger's legs and in while the German was still trying to regain his position.
"I think it was a little bit of luck," Niederberger said. "Sometimes, you don't have the luck and we maybe deserved to have it tonight, but someone didn't want us to have the luck."
The Colts were able to accomplish something they hadn't been able to since Game 2 - score the first goal.
It came from an unlikely source, too, as Steven Beyers, playing in his first game since being injured at the end of the Mississauga series, sent a pass to Gregg Sutch.
The infrequently used winger, who hasn't been close to 100% all series, snapped a shot over the glove of Ottawa starter Petr Mrazek to give the Colts a 1-0 lead just 2:52 in.
At the other end, Niederberger held his ground, looking sharp early on a pair of quick saves on Steven Janes.
Mark Scheifele continued to take a beating from the 67's, receiving two different head checks in the first period.
But it was Ivan Telegin, who took a hit from Janes in the waning moments of the opening period, that had things the worst.
The Russian import had to be helped off of the ice to the dressing room after the first period and didn't return.
"We had a lot of key guys out of the lineup," said Colts forward Dan Erlich. "Even Telly went down in the middle of the game.
"But still, I think the guys (who were healthy) did a great job and we shouldn't hang our heads."
While Barrie looked pretty strong in the first, they didn't appear to have any gas left for the second.
Ottawa poured wave after wave of attack on the Colts in the middle period, peppering Niederberger with 17 shots over the 20-minute span.
The Barrie netminder was able to turn aside all but one, when Dalton Smith took two whacks in front to knock a puck through Niederberger, tying the game at 1-1.
Tyler Graovac made a nice play in the corner around a tired defender to set up the play, and he was at it again shortly after against an exhausted club that couldn't clear the zone.
Finally, Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk called a timeout to give his troops a chance to catch their breath and regroup, and it helped, as Barrie tightened up defensively to keep it a 1-1 game after 40 minutes.
The third period began at a good pace, but finished at breakneck speed.
Barrie had a few more opportunities, and it was a shot from an unexpected angle by Josh MacDonald that fooled Mrazek, going off of his blocker arm and behind him into the net.
No. 11's goal at 11:11 gave the Colts a 2-1 lead.
And while it would have been a poetic finish, it wasn't to be, as Cody Ceci's point shot, which was tipped by Janes in front of the goal, beat Niederberger with seven and a half minutes left to tie the game.
The game started to really pick up an overtime feel, which meant that penalty calls would be few and far between.
Unfortunately for the Colts, an error at the bench saw them put too many players on the ice, giving Ottawa a power play with 1:05 left.
The 67's would strike when Sean Monahan slipped the puck through Niederberger with 24.1 seconds remaining, forcing the Colts into a last-ditch effort without their leading scorer.
After Aaron Ekblad fired the puck into the zone, allowing the Colts to pull the goalie, Colin Behenna threw a low-percentage attempt towards the goal that went off of Mrazek and into the air in front.
Scheifele batted the puck out of mid-air and in with just 8.7 seconds left, sending Barrie to celebration and both teams to overtime.
"Oh, I was so happy," Erlich said. "With 20 seconds left, I was looking down and thinking, 'Well, here goes my OHL career.'
"Then Scheif gave us life back."
But in the end, a team with over a line's worth of injuries, including Sutch, who was playing less than three shifts a game, weren't able to overcome it all.
"Every single player has a lot of character and they were all able to step up," Niederberger said. "I'm really proud of them and they all had a great year."
Dial him in: Coming into tonight, Barrie winger Ivan Telegin was tops amongst anyone in this series for points, picking up eight in six contests. He entered Tuesday tied for seventh overall in league playoff scoring, but left in the first period with an injury.
Mrazek makes the list: Ottawa's Petr Mrazek is one of six netminders up for the OHL's top goaltender award. Mrazek, who posted 30 wins for the second consecutive regular season, is up against some stiff competition, which includes Niagara's Mark Visentin, who set a new league record for shutouts in a season.
Beyers back in: Colts forward Steven Beyers dressed for Game 7 tonight, seeing his first action since the final first-round contest against Mississauga. Beyers, who had 51 points in 56 regular-season games, set up the series-winning goal in overtime against the Majors.
Not dressed for tonight's game: Barrie was without Zach Hall (concussion), Tanner Pearson (fibula), Alex Yuill (MCL), Ryan O'Connor, Mitchell Klie and Cody Brown. Ottawa scratched Daniel Broussard, Mike Vlajkov, John McFarland, Ryan MacLean and Daniel Walsh.
Out of town scoreboard: One other series went the distance, as Kitchener went to Plymouth for their Game 7. The Rangers were victorious, knocking off the Whalers 6-3, thanks to a four-goal performance by Tyler Randell.
How the second round shapes up: Game 1 Barrie 1 @ Ottawa 5
Game 2 Barrie 3 @ Ottawa 2 (2O/T)
Game 3 Ottawa 2 @ Barrie 5
Game 4 Ottawa 2 @ Barrie 3
Game 5 Barrie 1 @ Ottawa 2
Game 6 Ottawa 3 @ Barrie 2
Game 7 Barrie 3 @ Ottawa 4 (O/T)
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Gregg Sutch: 1G
Mark Scheifele: 1G
Josh MacDonald: 1G
Norm Ezekiel: 1A
Steven Beyers: 1A
Colin Behenna: 1A
Mathias Niederberger: 40 saves