Barrie shuts down Oshawa in 4-2 win, moves on to Eastern Conference Finals
The Barrie Colts continue to impress.
And a complete effort by the Colts on Tuesday means some extra time off for them all.
Barrie shut the door on any hopes of a comeback, as the Colts blasted the Oshawa Generals 4-2 in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, sweeping the series 4-0.
“Coming in here, you knew that they were going to come out flying,” said Colts centre Erik Bradford. “We needed to play a complete 60 (minutes), and we did a good job of that.”
The Colts routinely dictated the flow of play in this series, and that unquestionably played into their favour.
“We’re sticking to the game plan,” Bradford said. “We’re getting hot at the right time and we’re just rolling with it.”
It wasn’t the most exciting opening period, but that suited the Colts just fine.
The Generals, once again, got a few shots on net in the early going, but unlike Sunday, everything was from a distance, which meant there was no problem for Colts starter Mathias Niederberger.
At the other end, the top line created a chance from behind the goal, when Anthony Camara set up Mark Scheifele in front, but Oshawa’s Daniel Altshuller made the save.
Having now played one another four games in a row, certain tendencies can be picked up and exploited.
For Barrie, that meant burning the Generals on the stretch pass, and they did it again on Tuesday to open the scoring.
Jake Dotchin skated up the middle of the ice in his own zone and saw Steven Beyers doing the same by the Oshawa blue line.
Dotchin hit Beyers cleanly, and with a step on the defencemen, the overage forward came in and snapped a shot off of the post and in to give the Colts a 1-0 lead.
“It seemed like they were trying to play a bit of our game off of the start, and that didn’t work the best for them,” said Colts defenceman Alex Lepkowski. “We played our game and it did really well.”
Oshawa’s best chance came late in the frame, when Lucas Lessio nearly stuffed home a puck that Niederberger was unable to freeze.
But the German import held his ground and maintained Barrie’s 1-0 advantage through one period.
It was some of the Colts younger players that stepped up in the middle frame to increase their lead.
First, Aaron Ekblad broke in from the point, and, even with a man all over him, deked Altshuller and lifted the puck past his blocker arm to extend the lead to 2-0.
Then, a bad clearing attempt by Geoffrey Schemitsch was picked off by Alex Yuill, and the second-year defenceman snapped home his first goal of the year, giving Barrie a 3-0 cushion.
The Generals continued to look lifeless until a fortunate break gave them some energy.
Colin Suellentrop took a step in from the point and let a shot go, which caromed off of a Colts defender and past Niederberger, pulling Oshawa to within two after two periods.
It would take less than two minutes into the third for Barrie to regain its three-goal lead.
Lepkowski took a long shot that Altshuller got a piece of but couldn’t catch, allowing the puck to trickle in, making it 4-1 Colts.
“I think it shows our resilience,” Lepkowski said. “We’ve had that all year long and it’s definitely coming out at the right time now.
“Our game is definitely coming together and it’s looking good.”
Oshawa started finally getting some rebounds off of Niederberger, but the defencemen were typically in position to clear away the puck.
“To win in the playoffs, you have to do the little things right,” Bradford said. “Blocking shots, chipping pucks, and that’s overall what helped us get those two wins in Oshawa.”
Cole Cassels was sprung in alone on a shorthanded opportunity, but Niederberger followed him across on the deke attempt and made the stop.
“When I look back there, I see an extra defenceman for me,” Lepkowski said. “He helps me out back there and he helps the team out hugely.”
Down 4-1 late in the contest, the Generals didn’t seem interested in pulling their goalie.
But they would get one goal closer anyways, as Scott Sabourin wired a shot over the glove hand of Niederberger to bring the score to 4-2.
That urged Generals coach D.J. Smith to call a timeout and shortly after, pull his goalie for the late push.
But an undisciplined penalty by Sabourin did Oshawa in, as the Colts killed off the rest of the clock en route to their second consecutive sweep.
“They’re one of the most penalized teams in the league, so we knew if we could get them off of their game, we could get power plays,” said Bradford of the Colts, who got five man advantages for to just one against.
“If they gave us a punch, we sucked it up,” Bradford added. “We know what the outcome would be and it worked out for us.”
Barrie will now get over a week off at least, as it will take on the winner of the Belleville Bulls-Sudbury Wolves series beginning no earlier than April 17.
“It’s a huge advantage for us,” Bradford said. “We have a lot of guys hurt, and guys with little injuries, so it gives us time to rest and get fresh for the next series.”
All in the family – Oshawa made a draft day pick last weekend. that had a connection to Barrie Colts folklore. Stephen Templeton, the grandson of the first Colts head coach Bert Templeton, was taken by the Generals in the sixth round. The elder Templeton, who ran the Colts from 1995 to 1999, was also named the OHL’s Executive of the Year in 1996.
Suspension laid out – Oshawa’s Scott Laughton did not play in Game 3 as he awaited his full sentence for his check from behind on Barrie’s Zach Hall in Game 2. On Monday, Laughton was given a five-game ban, meaning that the Oshawa forward could not return to play in the second-round series. Laughton had already been suspended once this season, earning a 10-game ban for a check to the head against the Ottawa 67’s in October.
Not dressed for tonight’s game: Barrie was without the services of Ryan O’Connor (suspension), Mitchell Theoret (undisclosed, day-to-day), Dylan Corson (undisclosed), and Zach Hall (upper-body injury). Oshawa did not dress Aidan Wallace, Scott Laughton (suspension), Will Petschenig and Hunter Smith.
Put ‘em away – The Colts have eliminated 10 of the 12 teams they have put on the ropes in playoff action over the past decade before tonight’s win in Oshawa. The only two times where Barrie failed to win a series in which they had won three games was in 2012 against the Ottawa 67’s and against the Missisauga IceDogs in 2004.
Scheifele leading the way – The Barrie centreman came in to Tuesday’s game atop the OHL’s playoff scoring race, with five goals and 10 assists in 15 games. Scheifele picked up a point in each of Barrie’s first seven games this post-season.
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Aaron Ekblad: 1G
Alex Yuill: 1G
Alex Lepkowski: 1G
Steven Beyers: 1G
Jake Dotchin: 1A
Tyson Fawcett: 1A
Josh MacDonald: 1A
Mathias Niederberger: 36 saves
How the second round shapes up:
Game 1 - Oshawa 3 @ Barrie 4 (O/T)
Game 2 – Oshawa 1 @ Barrie 4
Game 3 – Barrie 4 @ Oshawa 0
Game 4 – Barrie 4 @ Oshawa 2