The Oshawa Generals set a trap at centre ice and the Barrie Colts played right into it. The end result was a 4-1 loss to the Generals at the Barrie Molson Centre on a Dec. 6 night where Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk was none-too-pleased with his team’s stubborn willingness to try and work the way through a neutral zone crowded with Oshawa players.
“We’re trying to be too fancy,” said Hawerchuk, who talked to his club about the same thing during a 3-1 loss at Owen Sound on Dec. 1. The Colts head coach said when it came down to following the game plan, the Generals were much more disciplined.
“It’s 2-1 (for Oshawa) and we got a shot to win that and really turn the tide, especially in our barn, and we kept turning pucks over at our blue line,” he said. “They’re sitting there trapping and we know it, and we’re playing into it. Every time we put it deep, they seemed to turn it over right back to us and we got some opportunities.”
“It’s something these young kids don’t quite understand, that there’s a reason NHLers talk about pucks deep. It seems like a certain type of answer, but it’s the truth. Until you buy in, it’s not going to happen. And (Oshawa) did well with it. They got pucks deep and they have odd-man situations and we’re the same way. You get time and space, great make a play. You don’t, you can’t keep turning it over there.”
The Generals jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period on goals by Anthony Salinitri and Tyler Tullio and held Barrie to a mere four shots on net.
It was a better second period for the Colts, who managed to gain some much-needed momentum thanks to a power-play marker by Jacob Tortora at 6:13 that cut the Oshawa lead in half and some quality stops by goaltender Kai Edmonds.
“The second period we had very minimal turnovers at their line, but we did get it deep,” Hawerchuk said. “We changed momentum and Kai made a few saves and gave us a chance. It’s 2-1 and the third period should have been ours, but sometimes young players, when they get some skill, think they can make it happen all the time. But, guess what? They’re playing against some young guys with skill too.”
The Generals got some early insurance just 3:24 into the final period on a power-play marker by Kyle MacLean and, then, Serron Noel’s late shorthanded empty-net goal sealed it for the Generals (18-9-2-0).
“That was a huge goal for us,” Oshawa head coach Greg Walters said of the MacLean power-play goal. “We played a pretty clean third period. Our discipline needs to be a lot better, but for the most part I liked our play away from the puck and we were able to get two points in a tough building.”
The Colts (14-13-1-0) search for consistency and ability to put together a few wins a row continues. For Hawerchuk, these kind of efforts won’t get them there.
“We played right into their trap,” he said. “We’re trying to make little dinky passes in the middle of the ice and they got five guys there. It makes no sense. Until they get it in their head and start to execute, we can’t turn the corner.”
The Colts don’t have much time to regroup after the loss. They start a northern weekend swing Dec. 7 at Sudbury and then it’s off to face Sault Ste. Marie on Dec. 9.
“You got to park it, but you got to remember and you got to learn,” Hawerchuk said. “That’s the biggest thing I’ll be looking for over the next two games.”
Photo: Kai Edmonds had another solid start in net for the Barrie, but it wasn’t enough as the Colts dropped a 4-1 decision to the Oshawa Generals, Dec. 6, at the Barrie Molson Centre. Terry Wilson/OHL Images photo