Athanasiou's hat trick lifts Barrie to an 8-5 win over Saginaw
The Barrie Colts take on the Saginaw Spirit at the Barrie Molson Centre in this file photo. The pair face each other tonight at the BMC. MARK WANZEL FILE
The Barrie Colts needed their hot start on Thursday.
That’s because they let things get a little too close at the finish.
Barrie’s offence was flying high as the Colts scored four goals in the first period before taking down the Saginaw Spirit, 8-5.
“We definitely played pretty well offensively,” said Colts centre Zach Hall. “The lines are pretty good and everyone was clicking.
“I just thought we were kind of cheating up sometimes after we had six or seven goals, and we weren’t playing defence as much as we should have in the third.”
The Colts came out gunning in the first period, and used that speed to burn the Spirit.
Andreas Athanasiou took a pass from Hall and burst down the wing, beating Saginaw defenceman Marselis Subban to the outside before cutting back in and depositing the puck behind Spirit goaltender Jake Paterson.
“Me and Andreas practised with each other this week, and during practice, I was springing him,” Hall said.
Barrie doubled its lead just 1:50 later when, after Josh MacDonald’s shot, Brendan Bell found himself behind Paterson while digging for the puck.
Bell managed to knock the puck away from the netminder and get out of the crease in time for Erik Bradford to snap it home, giving Barrie a 2-0 advantage.
Before the Colts could run away with things, Saginaw cut the deficit to half.
Nick Moutrey’s attempt to pass the puck across the goalmouth deflected off of a Colts defender and right to Brandon Lindberg, and the 2012 draft pick fired home his first career OHL goal.
That wouldn’t derail the Colts or Anthony Camara, who, in an almost-spitting image of Athanasiou’s opening goal, beat Ramon Lopez wide before slicing in front and slipping the puck just out of Paterson’s reach.
“Our forwards were really taking the puck at them tonight,” Hall said. “We were doing a lot of good work.”
Barrie would make it 4-1 before the period was out on a goal that needed to go upstairs before it was deemed good.
MacDonald’s initial bad-angle chance was stopped by Paterson, but as the goalie cut across the crease, he left the puck sitting on the short side.
Bradford managed to get enough of it to knock it over the goal line for his second of the night.
“I like playing with Bradford and Bell,” MacDonald said of his linemates. “We played well together last year, and we’re a hard-working group and can get into the dirty areas.
“We can pass, shoot, and get into those areas, and it’s great playing with them.”
Saginaw actually outshot Barrie 10-9 in the opening period, but the Colts were in the driver’s seat after 20 minutes.
Barrie nearly made it 5-1 early in the second frame when Hall appeared to slide the puck through the legs of Paterson and in.
But the goal was called back due to an apparent kicking motion.
Despite the tally not counting, the non-goal would be it for Paterson, as he was pulled during the video review in favour of Nikita Serebryakov, who got a chance to see his first OHL action.
It would be a rude welcome, as the second shot that Serebryakov would face, a one-timed attempt by Hall from one knee, would go through the legs of the Russian goalie, giving the Barrie centre a goal after all.
The Spirit wouldn’t give up, though, as Steven Strong dropped the deficit to 5-2 when he cut across the middle and snapped a shot over the shoulder of Niederberger.
Saginaw made it even more interesting when Garret Ross fired home a rebound on the power play to pull Saginaw to within two, down just 5-3.
But the Colts wouldn’t let it get any closer in the second period.
Just 12 seconds after the Saginaw goal, Mark Scheifele spun and fired the puck out in front of the goal, where Athanasiou wired it past Serebryakov before having some choice words for former Colt Eric Locke, whom he’d tangled with earlier in the period.
“Our lines are really balanced, so we’re not afraid to put out any line because they’ll get the job done,” MacDonald said. “Every line can put the puck in the net, and that’s what forwards are for.”
For the third straight period, Barrie would open and close the scoring, but not before some nervous moments in between.
Athanasiou would get his hat-trick marker in an unconventional fashion, when his shot deflected off of a Saginaw defender’s stick and high into the air, eventually dropping behind a surprised Serebryakov and in to give Barrie a 7-3 advantage.
That broke an 8-0 shots count for the Spirit in the third, and despite the goal against, Saginaw kept coming hard.
Sam Povorozniouk and Locke broke in on a 2-on-1, and the former fed the one-time Colt, who beat Niederberger to the blocker side to make it 7-4.
“I think we let off the pedal a little,” MacDonald said. “We’ve got to play a full 60 there and I think we’re going to clean it up for the rest of this weekend.”
Ross picked up his second of the game to bring the deficit to 7-5, although the game could have been much closer had Niederberger not managed to make 14 third-period stops.
“Bergy was huge for us,” Hall said. “If we didn’t have Bergy, it probably would have been a lot closer than we would have liked.”
The Spirit’s comeback attempt was put to bed when MacDonald hit the empty net, giving the Colts their fifth win in a row.
Barrie’s next contest is Friday night in Oshawa. The Colts will return home Saturday to take on the Sudbury Wolves.
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Andreas Athanasiou: 3G
Zach Hall: 1G, 2A
Josh MacDonald: 1G, 2A
Steven Beyers: 3A
Erik Bradford: 2G
Anthony Camara: 1G
Mark Scheifele: 1A
Brendan Bell: 1A
Mathias Niederberger: 34 saves