Colts fall to Bulls in final minutes
Barrie Colts winger Anthony Camara (#15) watches a shot from teammate Zach Hall, upper right, slide past Belleville Bulls goalie Malcom Subban during first period action of the OHL Eastern Conference final in Belleville Friday night. (David Zammit Photo)
Austen Brassard's second goal of the night gave the Belleville Bulls their first and only lead of the contest as they defeated the Barrie Colts 3-2 in Game 1 of their OHL Eastern Conference final Friday at Yardmen Arena.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven set will be at the Yardmen Arena Saturday night. Game time is 7:05 p.m.
With Barrie's Jake Dotchin in the penalty box for holding, Brassard beat Colts netminder Mathias Niederberger on a rebound at 18:05 of the final frame. Alan Quine and Daniil Zharkov assisted.
Bulls never led until the end. When it counted most.
“We didn't lead on the scoreboard until the end and it was hard coming back, but we wanted to get that first win on home ice,” said Bulls goalie Malcolm Subban, who made 26 saves for the victory. “Barrie came out hard, especially in the first period, and then we were trying to shut their offence down and simmer it a bit.”
Stephen Silas scored the other goal for the Bulls, who trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes and 2-1 midway through the second stanza before tying the tilt on Brassard's first of the night — while playing 4-on-4 — at 14:10 of Period 2.
Belleville native Zach Hall posted the visitors to a 1-0 lead in the first period while defenceman Aaron Ekblad — on the power play — counted the other Barrie marker.
“There was no quit in our game,” said Bulls GM-coach George Burnett. “We were a little loose but generated a lot of quality chances and didn't feel like we were down 1-0 with all the chances we had in the first period.”
Bulls captain Brendan Gaunce and overage Joseph Cramarossa both missed gift-wrapped scoring opportunities in the first period before Silas, going back-door, converted a Gaunce pass to tie the game at 7:38 of Period 2. Scott Simmonds also assisted.
Barrie went back in front when Ekblad's power-play slapper beat Subban on a pass from Hall, then Brassard walked in — unmolested — from the side of the Barrie cage to tie the game again.
Michael Curtis fanned on a Belleville 3-on-2 early in the final frame and Hall hit the post for the Colts, setting the stage for Brassard's late-game clincher.
Bulls were without scoring leader Tyler Graovac (unspecified upper body injury) and Carter Sandlak (two-game suspension) but Burnett liked how others chipped in.
“Everybody was asked and everybody had a piece of it,” he said. “Nobody's going to replace Tyler and we miss Carter big time too. But people stepped up and did a job.”
That said, it needs to be even better if Bulls want some breathing room in Game 2, said Burnett.
“We've got to do a better job of applying pressure in their end of the ice,” he said. “Faceoffs were a struggle too and we need to manage the puck better.”
Attendance was announced as 3,133 and Subban said it sounded like more.
“I don't remember the last time the crowd was this loud,” he said.
Asked if the quick turnaround for Game 2 would affect either team, Subban guessed the Bulls would have a slight advantage.
“It'll be the same for both teams,” he said. “Bt, we get to sleep in our own beds.”
Burnett was hopeful Graovac might return to the lineup as early as tonight. But he wasn't placing bets on it.
“We'll see where we're at in the morning,” he said. “Then, we'll go from there.”
- Final shots favoured Belleville, 41-28 ...
- Bulls were 1-for-4 on the power play; Barrie, 1-for-3 ...
- Three stars were: 1. BRASSARD; 2. GAUNCE; 3. NIEDERBERGER ...
- A second-period scrap involved GARRETT HOOEY and Barrie's DOTCHIN ...
- Barrie is missing suspended defenceman RYAN O'CONNOR ...
- Games 3 and 4 are Monday and Wednesday in Barrie at 7:30 p.m.