Niederberger's 44-save performance highlights Barrie's 2-0 win over Guelph
A shoving match between Andrey Pedan of the Guelph Storm and Anthony Camara of the Barrie Colts occurs as the two squabble over the puck during first period OHL action, Saturday at the Barrie Molson Centre. Mark Wanzel/ The Barrie Examiner/ QMI
After being pulled a night earlier, Mathias Niederberger was ready to have a bounce-back game.
And you can’t do much better than a shutout.
Niederberger turned aside 44 shots as the Barrie Colts ended a four-game losing streak by blanking the Guelph Storm, 4-0 on Saturday.
“It was really important (to end the skid), of course,” Niederberger said. “We didn’t have any wins this week so we had to rebound.
“We’ve been playing pretty good and haven’t been getting the results, but fortunately, today we played good and got the results.”
Niederberger gave up three goals on 14 shots on Friday night, getting the hook in Sudbury.
“I knew I had to bounce back after yesterday,” Niederberger said. “I wasn’t happy at all with my performance.
“Tonight, it worked out and the team helped me out a lot,” Niederberger added. “That lets you get results like this.”
The overage goaltender tried to change a couple of things up on Saturday in preparation for the game.
“I tried to be awake and not fall asleep before the game,” Niederberger said. “I knew I wasn’t as ready yesterday and I just tried to get ready today.”
The victory gives Barrie 78 points on the year and ends its skid, keeping the Colts just two points back of Belleville for first place.
“We were definitely getting stressed out (by the losing streak), and we knew we had to come in and win tonight,” said Colts defenceman Alex Yuill.
“We knew we had to put out a full effort and play extra hard tonight, because we knew the bounces weren’t going our way right now.”
Both teams had some energy in the early going, but neither could translate that into goals.
The Storm did a good job of forechecking and took advantage of some poor passing by Barrie to eventually put 17 shots on Niederberger.
Barrie’s netminder wasn’t having the best rebound control, largely thanks to some new pads, but he continued to come out and challenge the shooter, and made a fine glove-hand save on Zack Mitchell.
“I don’t like to switch equipment,” said Niederberger, who was using new pads after going with his old ones for about a year. “I’m not so patient with it, but hopefully, the (pads) are going to feel better for next weekend.”
At the other end, the line of Erik Bradford, Dylan Corson and Brendan Lemieux did an excellent job of winning the battles along the boards, eventually giving the latter a scoring opportunity.
But a misplayed pass and a giveaway in the dying seconds of the first period allowed Brock McGinn to steal a puck at the blue line, and the Storm forward took a step in before wiring one off of the crossbar at the buzzer.
Guelph looked like the stronger team in the first, but Barrie started to do things right in the second.
Andreas Athanasiou snatched a loose puck in the neutral zone and broke to the net with speed, forcing Chadd Bauman to take a delayed penalty.
Storm goalie Garret Sparks stopped Athanasiou’s original attempt, but the rebound bounced out past a scrum of bodies.
The official, having lost sight of the puck, blew the whistle just as Dylan Corson fired one into the empty net, nullifying a potential goal.
With Mark Scheifele serving the first contest of a two-game suspension after picking up a double game misconduct in Sudbury last night, along with Mitchell Theoret being a late scratch with an illness, the Colts dressed 11 forwards with seven defencemen.
That meant the lines changed frequently, but Barrie head coach Dale Hawerchuk stuck with the trio of Anthony Camara, Zach Hall and Steven Beyers in the second period, and it would eventually pay off.
The three veterans controlled the puck in Guelph’s zone for a good 20 seconds before Camara, circling the goal, fed a pass to Hall on the short side.
The centreman waited for a moment before slipping one through to Beyers at the other post, and the overager one-timed his attempt past Sparks to give Barrie a 1-0 advantage after 40 minutes.
Niederberger continued to hold his ground and make some fine stops, even through traffic.
The German import was finally taken down – literally – when Cody McNaughton cross-checked Jake Dotchin into Niederberger, who took a moment to get up, but appeared to be all right.
Barrie was rewarded with a man advantage as a result, and it would convert.
Lemieux grabbed his own rebound while circling the net and set up Tyson Fawcett in front of the goal, and from there, the rookie cleanly beat Sparks to give the Colts a 2-0 lead.
“I think this just gave everyone else a chance to step up tonight,” Yuill said. “All of the young guys, and everyone who usually doesn’t get a chance, got to play.
“We’re a team, (we’re) not just our top forwards.”
Niederberger continued his strong play, stopping 16 shots in the third period to pick up his second shutout in as many weeks.
“I was talking to him before the game, and he said that he’s been frustrated,” Yuill said. “He changed up his routine, and he just wanted to come out and play hockey.
“He struggled a little last night, but he knew what we had to do tonight and he did it.”
Niederberger’s defencemen did a good job of clearing away rebounds and keeping the Storm forwards from getting too many whacks at the puck.
“In the beginning especially, I was still a bit shaky,” Niederberger said. “They were there for me the whole game, so it’s good to know that they’re there to help me out.
“We have a good relationship and that’s very important.”
Barrie’s next contest is at home on Thursday, when it hosts Owen Sound.
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Tyson Fawcett: 1G
Steven Beyers: 1G
Alex Yuill: 1A
Anthony Camara: 1A
Brendan Lemieux: 1A
Zach Hall: 1A
Mathias Niederberger: 44 saves, third shutout of the season