Mark Scheifele scores four third-period goals to give Barrie a 6-4 win, 3-1 series lead
A collision between Barrie Colts forward Josh MacDonald and London Knights defenceman Tommy Hughes causes some drama on the ice during first period OHL action Wednesday at the Barrie Molson Centre. MARK WANZEL PHOTO
They weren’t supposed to be able to do this against the mighty London Knights.
Down 3-1 after two periods, the Barrie Colts looked like they would be heading back to London with the series all tied up.
But a furious third period, buoyed by four goals from Mark Scheifele, propelled the Colts to a 6-4 victory over London.
“It was a good third period for us,” said Scheifele, who notched back-to-back five-point games on Monday and Wednesday. “We really put it together.
“In that second intermission, we said that we had to buckle down, take this opportunity, and it took a team effort to get that win.”
Barrie now leads the finals 3-1 and could potentially win its second-ever J. Ross Robertson Cup in London on Friday.
“We just take it as any regular game,” Scheifele said. “We believe we have a very good team, and I think we just look at it as a regular hockey game.
“It’s not something that not many people get the opportunity to do, so we take it as something fun and something we’re doing because we love it.”
As well as the Colts played, Knights head coach Dale Hunter chose to turn the attention onto himself following the third-period collapse, pointing instead to a trio of second-period Barrie power plays as the culprit for the loss.
“Actually, we played very well,” Hunter said. “We had a 3-1 lead, and the last six minutes or so of the second period, they started diving.
“Belleville warned us about it, that Scheifele, these guys, love to dive and draw penalties,” Hunter added. “(They got) three in a row and it changed the course of the game that way.
“People dive, and (the referees) don’t know if it’s a true hook or not a hook. They’ve done it before, and that’s what the guys told us, and it changed the course of the game.”
Hunter went as far to suggest that his team would start diving as well, although it looked as though a few of their forwards had gotten a head start on the coach’s idea.
“If they’re going to get away with it, we’re going to have to do it also,” Hunter said. “That doesn’t make for a good hockey game.”
Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk chose not to get into the diving conversation.
“(Hunter) is going to go what he feels he has to for his club,” Hawerchuk said. “We do what we have to for our club.
“It’s not in our mandate, but we focus on what we have to do, and I’m not worried about what they’re talking about.”
It was another quick start for the Colts, but from then on in, it was all London.
Barrie’s top line, going against Bo Horvat’s shut-down unit, got on the board on its first shift once again.
Zach Hall carried the puck around the goal to the right side and set up Anthony Camara, who was alone on the left.
Camara wasted no time depositing his chance past committed Knights starter Anthony Stolarz and into the empty cage, making it 1-0 Barrie.
The Knights wouldn’t be outdone for long, though.
London had 13 of the game’s next 14 shots, which included a pair of goals.
Barrie goalie Mathias Niederberger couldn’t hold on to Scott Harrington’s initial point shot, and the rebound came loose at the side of the goal.
Tyler Ferry scored on a bad-angle attempt towards the net before Niederberger could cover the right side, evening the game at 1-1.
Bo Horvat would give London the lead when he fired a high shot over the left arm of Niederberger a few minutes later.
The Colts spent much of period hemmed in their own end, as they had trouble clearing the puck and completing breakout passes.
Barrie’s defensive miscues would continue in the second and give London an opportunity to build on its lead.
Jonathan Laser was pressured behind his own goal and threw the puck up the middle, where Brett Welychka picked it off.
He snapped one over the glove of Niederberger to make it 3-1 Knights.
The Colts struggled to get pucks on goal as well, firing just 10 shots at Stolarz through 40 minutes.
London would take three straight minor penalties late in the second period, though none of them overlapped.
Barrie’s power plays in that stretch combined for just one shot on goal, a late shovel at the net moments before the buzzer went.
But they came out after the second intermission as a different team.
“We’ve been in these situations before,” Hawerchuk said. “We felt like we were in a good spot, having not played well but still having a chance to win the hockey game.”
The Colts got to within one quickly, as Scheifele backhanded a shot into the top corner 44 seconds into the third.
One shift later, Andreas Athanasiou fed Josh MacDonald, and he put one past Stolarz to tie the game at 3-3, on Barrie’s 12th shot of the night.
The Knights wouldn’t go down quietly though, and Ryan Rupert tipped a point shot past Niederberger soon after to restore the London lead.
Even with the temporary momentum stall, Scheifele and the Colts were undaunted.
With the Barrie forwards working the right side of the goal, Scheifele got the puck at a bad angle, but still somehow found a hole in the six-foot-six Stolarz, evening things up at 4-4.
“We have so much confidence in our team and we had no panic,” Scheifele said. “We came out each shift and worked our hardest, got pucks to the net and drove the net.
“We still had that desperation to get back into that game and win that game, and it showed some character by us.”
With Nikita Zadorov off for holding, the Colts finally pulled ahead, as Scheifele converted a strong cross-ice pass from Hall on the left side to send the Barrie Molson Centre into a frenzy.
From then on in, Niederberger stepped up his game, shutting the door with some key saves.
He even did so with Rupert crashing the crease while the London net was empty, as the pesky Knights forward shoved the back of Niederberger’s head, knocking his helmet off and starting a melee.
Scheifele’s fourth goal of the night came into the empty net, as Erik Bradford cleared the puck high out of the zone and gave the OHL playoff points leader plenty of time to pull it in and score.
The Colts will play Game 5 in London at 7:05 p.m. Should a Game 6 be necessary, it would take place on Saturday in Barrie at 7:35 p.m.
Rupert’s return – Matt Rupert, the twin brother of Ryan, was re-inserted into London’s lineup on Wednesday night. He suffered a lower-body injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal against Kitchener. Rupert missed a total of nine games with the ailment. Tonight’s game was his first action since April 10.
Not dressed for tonight’s game: Barrie was without the services of Devon Rymarchuk, Jake Dotchin (suspension), Mitchell Theoret (torso) and C.J. Garcia. London did not dress Miles Liberati, Corey Pawley, Owen MacDonald, Paxton Leroux or Jacob Jammes.
Former Colt & Knight nabs gold – Daniel Erlich won a gold medal at the Group ‘B’ Division ‘II’ World Championships in Izmit, Turkey a couple of weeks ago. Representing Team Israel, Erlich put up a tournament-best 23 points in just five games. He played on the top unit for Israel, which was coached by former NHL bench boss Jean Perron. Erlich suited up for the Western Mustangs of the OUA this year, being named to the West division’s all-rookie team.
Win the second, win the game – For the first three contests of the OHL final, it has been the team that has outscored the other in the middle frame that has wound up victorious. That trend has been helped by the fact that the first period of every game before Wednesday had all ended in a draw (0-0, 0-0, 2-2). Barrie bucked the trend on Wednesday, giving up the only goal in the second but scoring five in the third to more than make up for it.
COLTS ON THE SCORE SHEET:
Mark Scheifele: 4G, 1A
Zach Hall: 4A
Anthony Camara: 1G, 1A
Erik Bradford: 2A
Josh MacDonald: 1G
Steven Beyers: 1A
Aaron Ekblad: 1A
Andreas Athanasiou: 1A
Mathias Niederberger: 29 saves
How the Ontario Hockey League final shapes up:
Game 1 - Barrie 4 @ London 2
Game 2 - Barrie 1 @ London 4
Game 3 – London 3 @ Barrie 6
Game 4 - London 4 @ Barrie 6
Game 5 - Barrie @ London, Friday, May 10, 7:05 p.m.
Game 6 - London @ Barrie, Saturday, May 11, 7:30 p.m.
Game 7 - Barrie @ London, Monday, May 13, 7:05 p.m.