Barrie's strong play earns it a 4-2 win over Owen Sound
Barrie Colts forward Tyson Fawcett keeps an eye on the play during first-period Ontario Hockey League action, Thursday at the Barrie Molson Centre. MARK WANZEL PHOTO
The Barrie Colts were tough enough tonight.
Barrie matched Owen Sound’s intensity and physical play, and that would lead to results.
The Colts pulled ahead in the second period and went from there, knocking off the Owen Sound Attack 4-2 on Thursday.
“I think we know we’ve had some bad bounces and bad luck against this team, so we kind of put that behind us and just focused on tonight,” said Colts forward Andreas Athanasiou. “We just worried about our game.
“The one thing we had to do was outwork them, and we did that tonight.”
With the win, the Colts move to within four points of idle Belleville for first place in the Eastern Conference. At 80 points, Barrie merely needs to win one more game or have Brampton lose one in order to clinch the Central Division.
The Colts looked more equipped to play with Owen Sound this week, and a big part of it was former Attack forward Devon Rymarchuk.
He brought the physical edge that was advertised when he was traded to Barrie early in the opening period, laying out two former teammates on his first shift.
“I definitely wanted them to know I was out there,” Rymarchuk said. “I was definitely trying to make an impact out there.
“I think Barrie brought me in to be a big physical forward, so I’m just trying to contribute and play my role.”
But Rymarchuk went too far on one hit, when he made contact with Kyle Hope's head, and Owen Sound got a power play.
Just 18 seconds into the man advantage, Daniel Milne tried an attempt down low, but Colts starter Mathias Niederberger made the stop.
The rebound came out to the other side of the goal, where Barrie native Zach Nastasiuk was waiting to blast home his 15th of the season.
Nastasiuk's third goal in as many visits back home this season gave Owen Sound a 1-0 lead.
The Colts were fairly even on chances in the opening period, including a pair of shots on Attack goalie Jordan Binnington, but couldn't beat him easily.
But late in first period, Justin Scott cut across the top of the offensive zone before putting a shot on Binnington.
The rebound kicked out to Rymarchuk on the doorstep and he wouldn't miss, potting his first as a Colt to tie the game at 1-1 after 20 minutes.
“It feels pretty surreal,” said Rymarchuk, who picked up his second career goal. “Scotter made a nice play and I just drove to the net.
“It was in the crease and I popped it in.”
Rymarchuk continued his impactful performance, taking on former teammate Kurtis MacDermid in a second-period fight.
“We’re pretty good buddies, but he was kind of getting on my nerves out there,” Rymarchuk said.
Another Barrie forward making a big difference on Thursday was Athanasiou.
The speedy winger, having already drawn two penalties on the night, cut towards the middle of the ice and took a shot at Binnington, from which the rebound dropped out in front of the netminder.
Athanasiou was the first player to the puck and deposited the rebound, and even though he was hit in the head by Chris Bigras a second after, that didn’t dampen the goal-scorer’s celebration.
“You keep going and those things will happen (and) you’ll get the good bounces when you’re going,” Athanasiou said. “I was fortunate enough to get that goal there and help the team out.
“Right when I scored, I got smoked, so I figured I might as well give it a big celebration,” Athanasiou added. “I don’t normally celebrate like that on a goal, but you have got to have fun with what you love and give the fans what they want.”
Shortly after, Athanasiou broke in on the wing and set up Bradford, going to the goal.
Bradford would deke around Binnington, but couldn’t beat the goalie’s outstretched arm.
The Colts would continue to get Binnington to commit early, as a shift later, Zach Hall got the netminder’s attention before sending a pass across to Anthony Camara, who extended his point streak to six games with the 3-1 goal.
At the other end, Niederberger looked solid, stopping Milne on a one-timer in front of the goal before flashing the glove to rob Jaden Lindo from the high slot.
Beyond that, the defencemen, buoyed by the return of Aaron Ekblad, did a good job of keeping most of Owen Sound’s attempts from low-percentage areas.
“Their game is sculpted really well,” Athanasiou said. “We’ve got everything we need back there to win it all, and they make sure they do their roles.”
The Colts, as a whole, shut down the Attack in the third, as they kept most of the game in the neutral zone.
“We just played simple,” Athanasiou said. “We made the simple plays, trying not to do too much, took care of our own end, and it worked out.”
They would eventually get a power-play opportunity when Brayden Rose was called for charging, and Athanasiou, from behind the net, would feed Ryan O’Connor on the near side.
The Colts captain beat Binnington for his 16th goal of the season, making it 4-1 for Barrie.
But Owen Sound didn’t give up, and pulled the goalie late in the contest.
Nastasiuk would use his size to cut out in front of the goal and stuff one behind Niederberger, reducing the deficit to 4-2.
That was as close as the Attack would get, as Barrie held Owen Sound off the board the rest of the way.
“That was a really big win for us,” Rymarchuk said. “We can burn the gas out tomorrow night (because) we don’t have a three-in-three this weekend.
“We only have seven games before playoffs, so it’s good to get these wins in before playoffs.”
Barrie’s next contest is on Friday night in Mississauga. They return home to host Sudbury on Thursday, March 7.
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Andreas Athanasiou: 1G, 1A
Zach Hall: 2A
Ryan O’Connor: 1G
Devon Rymarchuk: 1G
Anthony Camara: 1G
Aaron Ekblad: 1A
Justin Scott: 1A
Steven Beyers: 1A
Mathias Niederberger: 22 saves
Zach Nastasiuk (Barrie native): 2G